Glossary of Terms

Accommodations
Techniques and components that may help children with reading challenges to complete regular educational program. Instances of accommodations include publications on tape and use of a word processor for writing.

Cognitive Testing
A testing process that determines a child’s overall level of intellect as well as a profile of relative strengths and weaknesses.

Compensatory Strategies
Techniques that children can use and build to help them compensate for weaknesses. A child with dyslexia may learn to use a computer spell checker to help him edit his work as a way of compensating for weak spelling skills.

Decoding
The ability to figure out how to read unidentified words by using knowledge of letters, sounds, and word arrangements.

Dyslexia
A condition in which children of at least average intelligence have severe difficulty learning to read. Dyslexic children have difficulty learning to decode and spell words.

Encoding
Using one’s understanding of letters, sounds, and word patterns to spell.

Evaluation
A series of examinations administered by one or more testers that identifies the origin of a reading difficulty and outlines effective techniques for remediation.

Individualized Education Plan (“IEP”).
A plan developed by a public school team to help an individual child. An IEP details educational goals, certain services that will be offered to help a child achieve those goals, and a plan for how and when a child’s progress will be assessed.

Learning Disability.
Unexpected difficulty learning in one or more realms related to academics, such as reading, writing, mathematics, and social skills, in children with at least average intelligence.

Multisensory Approach.
An approach to learning that involves more than one sense. Simultaneously tracing a letter made out of sandpaper and saying the letter’s name is an example of multisensory learning.

Neuropsychologist.
A psychologist whose evaluation focuses on the way in which a child’s brain works.

Occupational Therapist.
A specialist who evaluates a child’s fine motor skills, ability to regard visual information, and capability to use visual and motor skills together smoothly. This expert can also help children with fine motor and perceptual difficulties.

Orton-Gillingham.
A specialized technique for training children with dyslexia and severe decoding difficulties to read and spell. This strategy is a multisensory program that provides direct instruction and repeated practice in decoding and spelling.

Phoneme.
The smallest unit of sound. The word “up,” for instance contains two phonemes: “uh” and “puh.”.

Phonemic Awareness.
The ability to hear similarities and differences among phonemes. Strong phonemic awareness results in the ability to rhyme, to list words that begin and end with the same sound, to break words into individual phonemes, and to mix phonemes together to make a familiar word. Phonemic awareness is essential for learning to read.

Phonics.
The system of relationships between letters or letter combinations and sounds in a language.

Reading Comprehension.
The ability to understand what one reads. Reading understanding may be impacted by the difficulty of the text, the vocabulary words used in the text, and the reader’s familiarity with the subject matter, among other factors.

Reading Problem.
Difficulty meeting reading milestones for a given age or grade. A child can have difficulty with one or more aspects of the reading process. A reading problem may also be referred to as a “reading difficulty.”.

Reading Disability.
Another term for dyslexia.

Remediation.
Specialized instruction that helps a child improve her reading skills.

Sight Words.
Commonly occurring words that children are expected to understand instantly as wholes.

Speech/Language Pathologist.
A specialist who evaluates children’s speech articulation and language (speaking and listening) skills. This professional can also provide therapy to help children with speech and language difficulties.