What is Orton Gillingham?

What is Orton Gillingham?

Orton Gillingham is an approach designed to target reading, spelling and writing skills. It is an evidence-based approach frequently recommended for students who demonstrate challenges in these areas, particularly students with a diagnosis of dyslexia or a reading disorder. Blog-Orton Gillingham-Main-Landscape

Orton Gillingham is phonetically based, meaning that it educates students on how letters are linked to certain sounds, and in what context (e.g. when a “c” followed by “e,” “i” or “y” it says the /s/ sound). The approach is systematic, structured and repetitive, so that each lesson builds on previous knowledge and has a predictable routine.

It is also multi-sensory, in order to target all pathways of learning: visual, verbal, auditory, and tactile/kinesthetic. The instruction is customized to fit the student’s individual needs related to literacy.

How does Orton Gillingham work?

The Orton Gillingham approach is comprised of five levels. Upon initiation of therapy, a pre-test will determine which level best suits the needs of the individual. Each session includes a review of the phonetic rule learned in the previous session, through a variety of multi-sensory exercises. These activities include letter and sound identification, blending of sounds to create non-sense words, reading and spelling both words and sentences, reviewing of sight words, and oral reading practice.

The student must demonstrate mastery of the target skill (90% or greater on both reading and spelling tasks), before learning new material. Upon completion of a level, a post-test is given to determine the student’s understanding and retention of the knowledge for that level, before moving on to the next.

Orton Gillingham is typically provided by a Speech Language Pathologist, Reading or Academic Specialist. It is most effective when the student participates in sessions at least twice a week.

Click here to learn more about North Shore Pediatric Therapy’s Orton-Gillingham Reading Center.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140.

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Child getting tutored

What Makes A Good Tutor?

It is quite common for a child in elementary school and junior high school to have an academic tutor. Parents often ask us what we recommend for a tutor. What characteristics, what training is needed, etc. It is impossible to give a patented answer for these questions. The characteristics and qualities of the tutor really must be dependent upon the concerns presented by the child.

If a child presents with a learning disability such as dyslexia, it is vital that the tutor have specialized training in an intervention for that issue. Remedial support to keep the child ‘afloat’ in class simply will not cut it. If the tutor indicates that they utilize a specialized approach to tutoring, parents should always ask the individual if they are certified in that approach. The certification will at least provide the bare minimum standards that the individual received quality training.

If the child does not present a learning disability but is struggling with learning concepts and material in the classroom, it would be recommended that he or she work with a tutor that actually knows the curricula. The first place the parents should turn is the school. Many times teachers within the school provide outside tutoring or at least the school can provide a list of tutors that they would recommend.

If the main concern is a nightly battle between the parents and the child, I have made the recommendation of hiring a high school student to come and spend an hour or so a day with the child to help with homework. This way the stress of battling with your child is taken away.

Packed tutoring programs may be beneficial for retention of skill sets. These might prove best to be implemented over the summer.

Overall, the type of tutoring and amount of intervention needed truly depends on the child as well as what the concern and need for intervention is.








Child With Learning Disability

Helpful Homework Tips for Children With Learning Disabilities

If you are a parent of a child with a learning disability, you know how frustrating homework time can be. Evenings should not be spent tirelessly at the kitchen table. In fact, over involvement in your child’s homework can be counterproductive. If you sit down with your child every day at the kitchen table, who’s homework is it? “Many kids will let you do as much of their work as you’re willing to do.”

The responsibility lines can become blurred over time. Additionally, kids who are always provided a great deal of assistance, may become reliant on it and feel as though they cannot do it on their own, in turn, negatively affecting their academic confidence and self-esteem. Of course you love your child and you want to see them succeed… So what can you do?

Be specific about what kind of help you will provide during your designated homework time. Here are some helpful hints you can try out:

Help with organization:

  •  Checking assignment notebooks
  •  Going over directions and make sure they understand what is being asked of them
  •  Prioritizing tasks

Help Manage time and stay on Task:

Children with learning disabilities tend to underestimate the time it takes to complete tasks

  • Schedule Homework in shorter sessions
  • Allow mini breaks and snacks, if needed
  • Soft music or white noise
  • If you have a squirmy one on your hands, try having them sitting on an exercise ball, chewing gum or squeezing a soft ball while working

Review their work:

Children with a LD tend to prefer to not check their work

  • A child with a visual-perception problem may not be able to spot their errors or maybe it was just boring and they don’t want to see it again!

Know when to ask for help:

Sometimes as the parent you aren’t always the best one to be helping during homework time. Simply providing emotional support and guidance can prove extremely beneficial. Also, utilize your resources, talk with the teacher if your child is having trouble understanding the assignments. Considering a tutor may be an option, as well.

References:

Smith,Corinne (2010). Learning Disabilities: A to Z. New York, NY: Free Press






Math Disability Strategies and Resources

Is your child struggling with math?  Do they have a hard time memorizing basic math facts, solving word problems or making sense of equations?  Approximately 3-5% of school-aged children are estimated to have a Math Disability.  With evolving teaching practices, electronic applications and online resources your child should not have to suffer without help.  The following can help your child become more successful and confident in math:

Math apps and online programs:

Classroom-based accommodations:

  • Graph paper to help with organization.
  • Use different colors for columns in solving equations (e.g., green is where to start, etc.)
  • Chunking can make an unmanageable amount of work manageable.  Play with the presentation of problems and/or break assignments into smaller pieces.
  • Teach common words in problems and create a list to refer back to.
  • Break down problem-solving into steps and do not proceed until a step is mastered.
  • Create a visual reminder for solving equations.

Incorporate multisensory techniques:

  • Make your own flash cards, each one unique.  Review two or three of the most troublesome at a time and fold in with new problems.
  • Clap while counting.
  • Use manipulatives for visual, hands-on learning.

For more information about Math Disability and its remediation, please visit: http://www.dyscalculia.org/.  For information about your child’s rights and standards in public education, please visit: Idea.ed.gov.


Learning Disabilities Demystified

Learning concerns are one of the most common neurological issues with which children and adolescents present.  It has been estimated that approximately six percent of the general population meet the clinical criteria for a diagnosis of a learning disability.  The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition (American Psychiatric Association, 2013), which is the guide book for psychologists and psychiatrists that provides information regarding diagnostic information, indicates that there are several essential features of specific learning disabilities in children.

5 Features of Learning Disabilities in Children:

  1. Persistent difficulties learning basic foundational academic skills with onset during the early elementary years.  The manual indicates that these foundation academic skills include: reading of single words accurately and fluently, reading comprehension, written expression and spelling, arithmetic computation, and mathematical reasoning.
  2. A child’s performance is well below average for his or her age.
  3. Learning difficulties are readily apparent in the early school years in most individuals.  That being said, there are some instances in which the concerns are not fully evident until later in the individual’s academic life.
  4. The learning disorder is specific in that it is not attributed to other factors such as intellectual disability, socio-economic status, medical conditions, or environmental factors.
  5. The deficit may be restricted only one academic skill or domain.

Prior studies have indicated that learning disorders are more common in males than females.  There are several long-term consequences associated with learning disorders in which the individual never receives any intervention, including:  lower academic achievement, higher rates of high school dropout, higher levels of psychological distress, higher rates of unemployment, and lower incomes.
Data has indicated that children with learning disabilities are often at risk for a variety of co-existing conditions including ADHD and social-emotional concerns.  Click here for more information on learning disabilities.


Build Your Child’s Vocabulary Through Salient Features

salient featuresLabeling an item and expecting your child to remember the word is not as easy as 1, 2, 3.  In order to map new words into your child’s lexicon (i.e., his/her word dictionary), particularly if he or she has a language disorder, teaching salient features is essential for word understanding, use, and retrieval.  The following are key salient features when teaching new vocabulary, maintaining previously learned words, and expanding vocabulary.

Key Salient Features:

  • Category: Including the category into which a word belongs helps organize the word into a group.  This then facilitates further thought about words that are related to the target vocabulary word. For example, a pencil belongs to school supplies.  What else belongs to school supplies?
  • Place Item is Found: Identifying a location where a word may be found allows your child to visualize the target word.  For example, a pencil can be found in a pencil cup or in a drawer at home and in a desk or backpack at school.  Avoid non-specific locations such as the store or at school, as many items are found there.
  • Function:  Talk about the purpose of the item.  For example, a pencil is used for writing.   Identifying this feature allows a child to connect a noun to an action. Read more

5 Ways to Help Your Pre-Writer Develop Her Pencil Grasp

Your child is constantly growing, learning, and developing motor skills that she will use later in life.  One of thesedeveloping pencil grasp important motor skills is her pencil grasp.  By the time your child is three and half, she should have developed the skills necessary to hold her pencil with her thumb and the pad of her index finger.  Below you will find 5 ways to help her develop this skill.

5 Tips for Helping Your Pre-Writer Develop Her Pencil Grip:

  1. Employ “The Alligator”: Have your child make her hand into an alligator’s mouth, as if her fingers and thumb form the teeth and lips.  This “puppet-like” shape will help your child to grab onto a pencil, crayon, or marker using the pads of her fingers.  Instruct your child to place the marker in the alligator’s teeth and to keep the alligator’s mouth (web space) open.
  2. Use Stickers:  Place 2 stickers near the tip of your child’s markers.  These stickers will serve as a visual cue for your child when she is picking up the marker.  This additional cue may help her to remember where to put her fingers and to use her thumb and pointer finger together.
  3. Keep Supplies Her Size:  Give your child various small supplies, such as short pencils (much like the ones you find at the mini-golf course), broken crayons, or short markers.  Since your child’s hands are much smaller than your own, giving them supplies that are just their size will make it easier for them to use a more refined grasp.
  4. Use Lacing Cards: Engaging your pre-writer in activities that don’t involve a pencil or paper can also help her to develop her grasping skills.  Pick up some lacing cards (you can also use cardboard and a hole puncher to make your own).  Encourage your child to hold a shoe-lace with her thumb and pad of index finger as she weaves it in and out of the holes.  This activity helps to develop her visual-motor skills that are so important for writing. Read more

Helping Your Client to Optimally Attend: Advice for Pediatric Therapists

“Show me you’re ready!” As a Pediatric Occupational Therapist, I can’t even begin to guess how many times this utterance is repeatedchild attending throughout my day in the therapy gym. While I’m sure that my clients think I sound like a broken record, the bottom line is that if they’re not ready to pay attention, they’re not going to learn what I’m teaching.  What does it look like when a client is ready to attend?  Here are three important ways for young clients to show you, their therapist, they are ready to work and learn.

Three Tips to Gain Maximum Attention from Pediatric Therapy Clients:

  1. Ready Body: The body is still and facing the person who is speaking. It is not jumping, running, or facing other areas of the room. Read more

Debunking Dyslexia Myths

Dyslexia is a word that often stirs up fear and misunderstanding. In addition, it is awash in myths. Often, people think of adyslexia person with Dyslexia as an individual who confuses b’s and d’s or reads backwards. Others may think of a troubled reader who is confused by basic letters.  This simplistic and incorrect understanding of Dyslexia often causes people, especially parents, to feel a series of negative emotions when their child has trouble reading and a Dyslexia diagnosis is given. In reality, as many as 1 in 5 children are diagnosed with Dyslexia, which is defined a deficit in the phonological processing component of language that results in trouble reading and decoding words. Read on for the truth about Dyslexia.

Dyslexia myths and the truths behind them:

  • Myth: “Dyslexia means readers see letters and words backwards.”
  • Fact: Letter reversals are a symptom of Dyslexia; however, this is not the condition itself. Dyslexia is a much more complex phonological processing disorder in which the reader has difficulty associating the letters and the resulting sounds. Read more

ADHD and Executive Functioning Resource Guide

Are you looking for more information on ADHD or Executive Functioning?  Read on for top picks from our ADHD ResourcesNeuropsychologist.

Top Resources for Information on ADHD and Executive Functioning:

  • Taking Charge of ADHD:  The Complete Authoritative Guide for Parents.  Barkley, Russell (2013): This book provides parents with evidence based interventions regarding ADHD.  It is well written and easily readable, while providing parents and practitioners with the latest research supported information regarding ADHD and various interventions.
  • Executive Skills in Children and Adolescents:  A Practical Guide to Assessment and InterventionDawson, Peg and Guare, Richard (2010): This book is aimed at practitioners that work with children with Executive Functioning concerns.  It may be a little research heavy for some parents; however, it is a wonderful resource for therapists and educators.   It includes basic research on Executive Functioning as well modifications and interventions that can help children and adolescents with a variety of Executive Functioning issues including disorganization, inflexibility, initiation of tasks, and monitoring work. Read more