How To Choose An Intervention For Dyslexia

The importance of early intervention is frequently under-emphasized. That is, interventions for dyslexia do not really start at birth; rather, they are most effective when started at the second or even third birthday of an individual who suffers from this disabling learning disorder.

Some things always bear repeating: the need to undertake a thorough psychiatric screening; an individual assessment by a qualified psychologist; and, importantly, a personal writing and reading evaluation by a qualified psychologist. Then, there is the need to develop a therapeutic plan. In this particular case, the need for an intervention for dyslexia’s should be considered. That is, if such an intervention were to make a difference to the child’s reading and writing ability, it would almost certainly make a difference in the overall results of the reading and writing tests undertaken by the psychologist. So, thought a reiteration is in order, particularly considering a recent referral received from a private clinic yet another patient whose family had expended thousands of dollars ( literally) on an intervention for dyslexia; I’d be adding an extra ‘if’.

Intervention for dyslexia must therefore, I would propose, be undertaken with caution and with a great deal of openness. Intervention may well involve various aspects of the parenting, education, and emotional well-being of the concerned family. As a parent, your primary concern will be the development of your child’s strengths and weaknesses, so that he/she learns to make the most of his/her unique gifts. And as you strive to develop your child’s skills, your overriding concern must be to assist him in meeting the challenging behaviors, and experiences (which will probably persist throughout adulthood) which will inevitably accompany learning disability.

It is my contention that you need to assess the extent to which your child’s problems are in the areas of phonological processing, reading problems, writing problems, nonverbal behavior, or intelligence. Once you know what is at play, you can move for an intervention. I always refer to the intervention as a ‘front-end intervention’ because the starting point is to identify where the problems lie. We know what a front end intervention is when we look at the successful interventions with language, music, art, giftedness, and other areas. These interventions address the beginning stages of the problem, not the end result. The end result is often disappointing.

With that said, however, we can ask a few more questions and obtain additional information. Is the school where the child is testing from offering a full range of accommodations? Are they offering a multidisciplinary team to work with the child? Have they screened parents and students and assigned a giftedness evaluator who specializes in dyslexia and other LD Spectrum disorders?

If the school doesn’t offer accommodations and a multidisciplinary team, then the best choice would be to attend an international dyslexia conference where top professionals in the field gather. Attendance to these conferences is the best opportunity to gain understanding and expertise on the approaches to teaching and learning associated with dyslexia and/or other LD Spectrum disorders. A person can become acquainted with many other specialists and gain insight from their discussions.

Let me share with you some further details on how to evaluate interventions. If a child has significant delayed reading and comprehension skills during the earlier years, the intervention for dyslexia should focus on phonemic awareness. For a language development disability (LD) the child must have an understanding of phonemic differentiation and planning for word order in sentences. These are the two components that are typically delayed in dyslexia.

Once the child may be experiencing significant delayed reading and comprehension, he or she may have advanced difficulty in maintaining conversations. If the child may also exhibit poor expressive articulation and poor knowledge of name naming, then the necessary intervention for dyslexia may focus on phonological awareness. Other types of interventions to consider might include parent training programs, teacher training programs, or the need for specialized software that helps a child with learning process interventions and strategies.

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