Almost every parent who joins our support group expresses fear about whether their child will ever learn to read. By the time they reach our group the education system has failed them and their child. The parents are quite distressed because they have a broken child and don’t know what to do.
The answer we give them is YES, with evidence based intervention, they most certainly can learn to read. With systematic explicit instruction in Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Vocabulary, Fluency and Comprehension many children would never even see themselves labelled with Dyslexia or require intensive intervention.
My daughter now reads the same books as all her friends for pleasure. A little slower perhaps but she has a slow processing speed. Though the journey to the love of reading was a longer road than it should have been.
My daughter was read to from infancy. Books were how we would calm her, get her to sleep, comfort her when she was sick and bring her out of a rotten mood. We journeyed as parents with her to many far off places. Her first sentence was “read dis book yep!”. She would say this when she learnt to walk and would toddle around the house all day carrying a book and demanding its secrets to be revealed!
So she went to school, with a bounce in her step, adoring books and ready to read! Despite a lovely Kindy teacher she hit a road block. She hit a road block that so many kids will hit,Dyslexic or not, when instruction is not explicit or systematic enough for quick reading development.
Intensive explicit literacy instruction from a specialist tutor in year 3 taught her to read and write. The tutor 2 hours a week supported by daily hone reinforcement achieve what 3 years of school did not. Tutoring by a structured literacy tutor was in no way a quick fix but she finally broke the code needed to make her a reader. Unfortunately because intervention was delayed she had developed a fear of reading. The fear and negative associations that had been fostered by poor literacy instruction in a “Balanced Literacy Environment”.
In the end her love of books and the skills she has learnt from her tutor outweighed her fear of reading. My daughter,at age 12, will now disappear into the world of books quite often. She reads when she is angry, bored or anxious. She reads to help her sleep. She says she prefers books to movies. We have a chuckle every time I have to say “put the book down” because she is late to dinner and school because its always just one more page. We both know how hard the journey has been.
As my daughter now says “books are the portal to magical worlds!” We need to give all children access to the same magic.
Children with Dyslexia, with appropriate evidenced based instruction, can and most certainly do learn to read. Dyslexia is no excuse for a child not being able to be taught to read. If a child with Dyslexia fails to learn to read we should be looking at educational practises rather than using Dyslexia as the “get out of jail free card” for ineffective teaching methods. Children at risk of reading failure must be identified early before secondary issues manifest and before they are so far behind the reading gap becomes a insurmountable chasm.
Please see the attached fact sheets
Structured literacy fact sheet