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« Dyslexia Research Institute | Main | New Learning Disabilities Study »

Sunday, June 27, 2004

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liZ

The following is a post to theInternational Dyslexia Association discussion board, from a very knowlegable parent and teacher, on what the Dyslexia Institutes of America (DIA) has to offer dyslexic kids.

This is a franchise situation where anyone can buy the rights to set up a center. Therefore, the quality of the instruction provided at a particular site can vary.

I investigated DIA when one opened in my neighborhood. Since I am trained in Orton-Gillingham multisensory procedures for teaching reading to dyslexics, I wanted to see if they use any "recognized" and recommended procedures. I first talked directly to Dr. Jett the founder of the program. She said the facilities spend 24 weeks (nearly six months) on cognitive development (improving the brain's ability to think). Then they do reading remediation activities. The students spend 2 hours, one day a week at the center, and receive homework for the parents to do with them.

The instructional set-up is 2 students with one tutor. When the tutor works individually with 1 student, the other student works on a computer. So you are only getting 1 hour of actual 1-on-1 instruction. I asked her what they did for the kinethetic/tactile part of the procedure, and I was not happy with what she considered a multisensory approach.

There is a "whole word" activity which uses the Bell & Howell Language Master where cards are passed through the machine and the word is read to the student. The student then says the word and writes it in the air. Whole word instruction is not beneficial to dyslexics (or they would have learned to read in school since the majority of schools have been using whole word instruction for the last 20 years.)

Dr. Jett got her reading education from the University of Illinois under Dolores Durkin (I have Dr. Durkin's textbook, and it doesn't even mention dyslexia.) Dr Jett developed the reading programs used by the Sylvan Learning Systems. But has only been involved with dyslexia for that past seven years.

She [Jett] told a friend of mine that O-G and Lindamood-Bell don't work because they don't have this cognitive instruction. But over the last 12 years I have seen great success with O-G, and my friend's son made terrific progress with Lindamood-Bell.

After talking with Dr. Jett, I talked with the director of the local center; and found that she is not very knowledgable about teaching reading to dyslexics. I asked her what the center does to teach syllabication of words (where long words should be divided--this determines what sound the single vowel has), and she didn't know what I was talking about. She said she hadn't done very well in her English classes.

When I explained what I was talking about, she said that they hadn't gotten to that far in the book yet! When I showed her the division patterns, she said she hadn't seen them before. And this is the DIRECTOR of the center who should be the most knowledgeable person there! The directors get only 2 weeks training in management of the centers AND the therapies. (Orton-Gillingham training takes 3 weeks which includes 1-on-1 practice with a student under the supervision of a master O-G teacher, and Lindamood-Bell instructors get 3 weeks of training on LMB instructional procedures.)

I would only use these centers as a last resort. If you are able to find an Orton-Gillingham tutor or are able to afford a Lindamood-Bell center (I worked at one in 2000), I think these would be a better option.

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