See this screenshot? (click on the image for full size)
Sylvan is claiming that they can provide expert dyslexia assistance. Most of the experts say that Sylvan (as well as the other general learning centers) totally lack the resources to address dyslexic students' needs.
Don't waste your money and your child's precious time. (Thanks to Myomancy for the inspiration)
Susan Barton (her home tutoring guide is excellent) says:
The reading, spelling, and writing skills of someone with dyslexia can improve dramatically -- but only with the right kind of tutoring: one-on-one tutoring by someone certified in an Orton Gillingham based system.
Most Sylvan Learning Centers do not offer this type of tutoring. Nor do most of the other commercial tutoring centers.
Erica Rassmussen Jane says the commercial firms hide important information, such as:
8. "We can't handle learning disabilities."
Few tutoring centers are equipped to handle students with actual disabilities such as dyslexia or even mild developmental disorders, but parents may seek them out anyway, to diagnose or even "fix" problems the child is experiencing at school. While certain tutors may be adept at recognizing blocks in a child's learning process, it's not a tutor's place to diagnose a disability. If you suspect a problem exists, ask your pediatrician to refer you to a specialist.
In the newly-published Overcoming Dyslexia for Dummies (which I highly recommend), Tracey Wood writes:
A general learning center may offer you more flexibility than an individual tutor. ...That's the good news.
The bad news is that tutors in centers aren't usually qualified in special needs. They don't have training in remedial reading techniques, like Orton Gillingham, and they may not know much about dyslexia.
Erica Rassmussen Jane's Article, 10 Things Your Child's Tutoring Program Won't Tell you.
Anne Alexander and Anne-Marie Slinger Constant's article "Current Status of Treatments for Dyslexia: Critical Review" (J Child Neurol. 2004; 19 (10): 744-758.) is perhaps the most comprehensive current review:
treatment studies have shown that the majority of children respond to evidence-based treatment interventions
Yes, there are children who continue to struggle despite being in comprehensive programs, and there is certainly room for improvment in both diagnosis and treatment options. Alexander and Constant suggest a checklist:
- An evidence-based program to remediate dyslexia and the phonological system weakness
- Evaluate child's ability to focus/pay attention (remediate as necessary)
- Evaluate the child's working memory function (remediate as necessary)
- Evaluate the child's executive function,(remediate as necessary)
- Evaluate the child's sensorimotor capacity (the ability for fine and gross motor control. Deficits in this area can lead to dysgraphia. (remediate as necessary)
- Evaluate the child's psychological status (ADHD and dyslexia have a high degree of co-incidence; anxiety disorders also seem to be associated with specific language disorders)
Parents, if your child has difficulty learning to read, do not waste your child's precious brain, or your money, on twaddle such as hypnosis. (Or colored lenses, or balance training, or optometric interventions like vision therapy, or seasickness drugs or movement therapies.)
What should parents of poor readers do? Here's what works: multisensory, methodical instruction in phonemic awareness, grapheme-phoneme correspondence, and further training in the structure of the English language.
If there isn't a Masonic Children's Learning Center near you, an independent Orton-Gillingham-based remedial program (see list below), or you can't find other help, go to Susan Barton's website and learn to tutor your child.
A list of good solid programs follows. Here's a description of effective teaching.
- Orton-Gillingham The pure, unchanged, original method.
- Barton Reading & Spelling System Designed for one-on-one tutoring of children, teenagers and adults by parents, volunteer tutors, resource or reading specialists, and professional tutors. This simplified Orton-Gillingham approach is easy to learn. Tutor training is provided on videotape, along with fully scripted lesson plans.
- Slingerland Designed for classroom settings of young children in the first, second, and third grades.
- Herman Method
Recently acquired by Lexia. The Herman Method can be used by both parents and teachers.
- MTA (Multi-sensory Teaching Approach) as developed by Margaret Taylor Smith.
- Alphabetic Phonics Designed for one-on-one tutoring of children. This is the method developed at the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital.
- Wilson Reading System Initially designed for one-on-one tutoring of adults, their new version can be used with children in third grade or higher.
- Project Read
is designed to be delivered in the regular classroom or by special education, chapter one, and reading teachers who work with children or adolescents with language learning problems.
- Preventing Academic Failure (PAF) "a program for teaching reading, spelling, and handwriting in grades K-3. It has been proven successful in over 25 years of use in public and private schools. Thousands of children, many with learning disabilities, have learned to read thanks to PAF."
- Lindamood Instruction in Phonemic Segmentation (LiPS)
There's also the Institute for Multi-Sensory Teaching.