Child & Family Development Child & Family Development

February 3, 2016

Dyslexia and reading: early intervention


Our Educators heartily agree with this recommendation from Brett Miller, PhD.  Dr. Miller directs the Reading, Writing, and Related Learning Disabilities Program in the Child Development and Behavior Branch of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and oversees research focused on development of reading and written-language abilities for learners across the lifespan. He spoke recently with National Institute of Health’s magazine about dyslexia.

Is there a key to helping people with dyslexia?

Early, systematic, and explicit reading instruction, teaching the link between the written word and its specific sounds, is critical for dyslexia. The written word maps directly onto spoken language. So the challenge is to link the sounds of English, for example, to the specific letters of the alphabet.

How can parents help their children?

Since learning begins at home, the best thing parents can do is to talk with their children and read to them every day. Let them soak in what they’re hearing and learn how to converse. This is a great opportunity to bond with your children and helps them build their oral vocabulary and learn the structure of language, which are part of the foundation for reading.

What is the goal?

The goal is to build a foundation for reading and that takes lots of time and practice.

When should special instruction begin?

The earlier the better for children who are struggling to read. Some children need more time to learn, while others do better in smaller groups. So parents should build relationships with their children’s teachers and school administrators to advocate for the best possible support.  Early intervention reduces long-term problems. Children who are not improving by the fourth or fifth grade may need continued instructional support on foundational skills of reading in later grades.

Educational specialists have a unique role at Child & Family Development.  They work closely with psychologists and other developmental therapists to understand the learning styles and needs of school-aged children, adolescents and young adults during psycho-educational evaluations.  We help kids, adolescents and young adults with difficulties, including but not limited to:

  • ADHD and other attention difficulties
  • Dyslexia
  • Dysgraphia
  • Learning Differences and Disabilities
  • Non-Verbal Learning Disorder

We provide direction and support in determining and meeting the learning needs of every student, from elementary school to the college years. We assist parents in identifying and addressing initial concerns and then developing comprehensive recommendations to move forward, often including Individualized Education Plan (IEP) development with the public school system. Educators also collaborate with schools and community agencies and offer follow-up meetings as parents proceed with their plans. Services can include direct treatment, assessment, consultation and parent advocacy.