By: Allison Blythe, Certified Orton Gillingham Tutor
The Orton Gillingham method is a multi-sensory approach to teaching reading through phonemic awareness. Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify, segment, and manipulate phonemes. This method of teaching works through 6-7 different syllable types. It has been studied rigorously and shown to create new neural pathways to areas of the brain that aren’t being utilized in Dyslexic and struggling readers. These readers need an explicit and systematic approach to reading that breaks words into syllables for quicker decoding and encoding. The method uses finger tapping, swiping, sand writing, and various multi-sensory approaches to help these readers develop confidence and fluidity in their reading and spelling skills.
The Orton Gillingham method does take time to achieve success. The recommended tutoring for Orton Gillingham is twice a week for about 2 years. This schedule does not always work practically or financially. In my time tutoring, I’ve watched many students improve dramatically with 1 time per week instruction. The instruction builds upon itself. While the beginning may seem slow, the skills grow exponentially. It is a privilege to watch these students move from slow pronunciation of 1 syllable words, to being able to read fluently and confidently.
For a lot of kids and adults who struggle with Dyslexia, all they need is to be taught in a way that allows their brains to see and experience phonemic awareness. They need to know that even though reading may take much longer, it will be accomplished and it is so worth it On the other hand, the Dyslexic brain can do some remarkable things. Most Dyslexics can see all the way around objects from only one perspective. They also pick up on patterns and solve all sorts of complex problems with ease. While Dyslexia is something that will require specific instruction for reading, reading can be taught. What they are able to do with patterns and perspectives is a gift.