Intervention for dyslexia and dysgraphia is more than choosing a program. If it is a multisensory program founded in the science of reading, there will be basic elements that are the same. These are elements that are required. For instance, these programs must provide explicit instruction in phonology and phonological awareness, sound-symbol association, syllable instruction, morphology, syntax, and semantics (comprehension). A student’s progress through a program is highly dependent on his or her individual profile of strengths and weaknesses. For instance, children with an accompanying speech and/or language impairment will often progress through a traditional Orton-Gillingham program at a slower pace than a student without the weaknesses in speech and/or language. This does not mean that one program is better than the other. Instead, it reflects the intended population of children the program was initially designed to teach.
An example of such program is the Barton Reading and Spelling Program. The content of instruction for this program is very good however it is not intended to be used with children with speech and/or language impairments. Therefore, Susan Barton designed the Barton Screening. This instrument was intended to identify the children that had the prerequisite skills needed to complete this program successfully.
The DuBard Association Method is one of only a few programs that was designed specifically for children with oral language impairments. It is also one of the few programs that can be used with a child as young at 3 years old. The developmental progression of instruction aligns with typical speech and language development which makes it an excellent choice for early intervention. Another strength of this program that is often absent from others is the explicit instruction in written expression skills. This is addressed through the sentences and stories level of instruction. This portion of the program builds both oral and written language skills. Again, this is a critical component of intervention for children with accompanying speech and language impairments.
One of several distinctive features of the DuBard Association Method is the delay of explicit teaching of the phonetic spelling rules. This is very important for many students because it decreases the demand on language processing and working memory skills which are often areas of weakness for some students. The developmental nature of the progression of instruction, strong phonological processing and phonological awareness components of instruction, and the explicit instruction targeting both oral and written language skills are some of the reasons that we start all students in the DuBard Association Method.
Over the years we have provided explicit instruction in the phonetic rules in a variety of ways. We have taught it through pure DuBard, we have used the Barton Reading and Spelling Program, the Wilson Reading System and Just Words. In February 2017 Ms. Sandy and I were trained in the Wilson Reading System because we thought this would be the best transition program for our students especially since more and more school districts were investigating this as a potential program option. We felt transitioning the students to Wilson or Barton would help when students were ready to transition from the Hannah School but continued to need explicit instruction in reading and spelling. Unfortunately, at that time we did not have the staff to implement the Wilson program.
As we have grown over the last couple of years, we decided last year to make a commitment to have several teachers trained in Wilson and began implementing that program along with the DuBard Association Method. Since we saw positive results, we began making plans to train more teachers to implement this program more fully.
The Wilson Reading System (WRS) specifically addresses the reading instructional needs of students in grades 2-12 and adults with a language-based learning disability. Below are some of the characteristic’s students may exhibit which indicate the student may be a good candidate for this program.
· Unable to decode accurately (in lowest 30th percentile)
· Exhibit slow, labored reading with lack of fluency
· May know many words by sight, but have difficulty reading unfamiliar words and pseudo words
· May often guess at words
· Have poor spelling skills (in lowest 30th percentile)
· Able to speak and understand English, but not read or write it (such as English language learners)
· Have a language-based learning disability, such as dyslexia
· Are in grade 2 or higher
For students in grades 4-adult who have mild to moderate gaps in decoding or spelling proficiency but do not have a significant language-learning disability may be appropriate for a Just Words Class..