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Dyslexia Defined

Updated: Aug 9, 2018

The state of Missouri defines dyslexia as a neurobiological learning disability that is accompanied by these features...

  • "characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities that typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language;"

  • "often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction;"

  • "Typically Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge;" (IDA/NICHD, 2002)

The Effects on Young Readers...

  1. If dyslexia or dyslexic tendencies are not strategically addressed early, a child's sense of self worth and academic success will likely be hindered.

  2. The benefits far outweigh the cost of screening and treating dyslexia early. Often, working to lessen the detrimental effects of dyslexia on an upper grade student is far more difficult to achieve.

  3. Methods used by trained educators to explicitly teach dyslexic students are research based and work wonders for all types of learners.

How do I know if my child is showing signs of Dyslexia? 

There are some commonalities to look for...

A substantial number of people usually have a few of these attributes. That does not mean that they all have dyslexia. If your child has many of these characteristics, and they are adversely effecting his or her educational experience, dyslexia may be the reason why. Your family doctor can make a conclusive diagnosis.

Spoken language

- Slow to star​t​ talking  

- Confuse simple but similar words

- Trouble learning the alphabet, numbers, days of the week, ​rhyming words​, directional words

- Difficulty understanding concepts

- Having a hard time remembering a word to explain thoughts or a concept.

- Difficulty ​learning letter sounds

- Spelling and composing writing assignments


- Slower to learn to read than peers

- Inconsistencies in spelling and reading

- Trouble counting syllables in words and rhyming words

- Difficulty with blending and segmenting words

- Trouble reading the sounds in words or the sounds of letters

- Cannot rapidly name the letters of the Alphabet

- Trouble with reading comprehension because of mistakes while reading

- Slow reading rate and struggles with fluency

Written language

- Trouble with copying from the board in a classroom

- Frequent and irregular spelling mistakes

- Frustration with writing ideas on paper

What is the next step to take if your child is dyslexic?


Call Sheri Kennedy at 573-609-2294

The Learning Lab provides a consultation for newly diagnosed dyslexics and their parents which becomes a self esteem boost for a child, and a lifeline for a parent. 

  • Overview of the amazing dyslexic brain

  • How a dyslexic learns best

  • Multisensory strategies for teaching your brain

  • Assistance finding a certified dyslexia tutor/therapist


The structured, sequential, multisensory reading intervention works for everyone, but is essential to the 1 in 5 people who are dyslexic.

Tutoring is helping with homework and reteaching the same information. Tutoring is not what someone with dyslexia needs.

Educational therapy means retraining the brain by teaching in a way that is structured, sequential, cumulative, and uses several sensory pathways simultaneously to actually rewire the brain.

Students receiving this research-based intervention twice a week for a year showed new neural pathways emerging where there had been under activation in the brain. You can't outgrow dyslexia but now we know that the reading and spelling problems can be helped.

The Learning Lab advises parents that dyslexia intervention works best with a 2 times a week for 1 or 2 years commitment. 

What is an Orton-Gillingham-based multisensory structured language approach?

CONTENT: What is taught?

  • Sound-Symbol Association: This is the knowledge of the various sounds in the English language and their correspondence to the letters and combinations of letters which represent those sounds. Sound-symbol association must be taught (and mastered) in two directions: visual to auditory and auditory to visual. Additionally, students must master the blending of sounds and letters into words as well as the segmenting of whole words into the individual sounds

  • Phonology and phonological awareness: Phonology is the study of sounds and how they work within their environment. A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound in a given language that can be recognized as being distinct from other sounds in the language. Phonological awareness is the understanding of the internal linguistic structure of words. An important aspect of phonological awareness is phonemic awareness or the ability to segment words into their component sounds.

  • Syllable Instruction: A syllable is a unit of oral or written language with one vowel sound. Instruction must include the teaching of the six basic types of syllables in the English Language: closed, vowel-consonant-e, open, consonant-le, r-controlled, and diphthong. Syllable division rules must be directly taught in relation to the word structure.

  • Morphology: Morphology is the study of how morphemes are combined from words. A morpheme is the smallest unit of meaning in the language. The curriculum must include the study of base words, roots, and affixes.

  • Syntax: Syntax is the set of principles that dictate the sequence and function of words in a sentence in order to convey meaning. This includes grammar, sentence variation and the mechanics of language.

  • Semantics: Semantics is that aspect of language concerned with meaning. The curriculum (from the beginning) must include instruction in the comprehension of written language.


  • Simultaneous, Multisensory: Teaching is done using all learning pathways in the brain (visual/auditory, kinesthetic-tactile) simultaneously in order to enhance memory and learning.

  • Systematic and Cumulative: Multisensory language instruction requires that the organization of material follows the logical order of the language. The sequence must begin with the easiest and most basic elements and progress methodically to more difficult material. Each step must also be based on those already learned. Concepts taught must be systematically reviewed to strengthen memory.

  • Direct Instruction: The inferential learning of any concept cannot be taken for granted. Multisensory language instruction requires the direct teaching of all concepts with continuous student-teacher interaction.

  • Diagnostic Teaching: The teacher must be adept at prescriptive or individualized teaching. The teaching plan is based on careful and continuous assessment of the individual's needs. The content presented must be mastered to the degree of automaticity.

  • Synthetic and Analytic Instruction: Multisensory, structured language programs include both synthetic and analytic instruction. Synthetic instruction presents the parts of the language and then teaches how the parts work together to form a whole. Analytic instruction presents the whole and teaches how this can be broken down into its component parts.

Information on Orton/Multisensory Teaching adapted from “Clinical Studies of Multisensory Structured Language Education for Students with Dyslexia and Related Disorders” published by the International Multisensory Structured Language Education Council and distributed by The International Dyslexia Association.

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