Monday, March 7, 2011

Treatment Options: Reading Programs

Kids with special needs like ADHD, ASDs and learning differences can frequently benefit from specialized tutoring and academic programs. But there are so many options, it’s difficult to choose what’s appropriate. And for adults, it can feel too late to get the help they need.

Today, I’m interviewing Theresa Rezentes, of Dyslexia Connections. Theresa is certified in both Slingerland Reading methods and  Lindamood-Bell methods. She works in schools as well as individual students in Alameda and Western Contra Costa County.

P. R. What are the signs that a child could benefit from working with a reading program?

T. R. As a reading therapist, I tutor kids who read below grade level despite an average to above average intelligence and who exhibit signs of letter direction confusion (b and d or b and p are most common), or who transpose letters (change their order) as exhibited in writing or oral reading.  Also, the child avoids reading for pleasure despite many encouragements.

P. R. What are these different reading programs?

T. R. As these children are three dimensional, hands-on learners, many need to write letters and words in the air with their whole arm to give them meaning.  The above confusions can be so distracting that only by writing the letters in the air while saying them and pronouncing them immediately following give them the scaffolding needed to make sense of words and reading.  This physical relationship is what is needed to permanently bypass the confusions that many children see if they have trouble reading.  Also, both the Slingerland and Lindamood-Bell Methods focus on auditory processing weaknesses which the majority (80%) of these students possess.

P. R. Can this be helpful for adults? 

T. R. Yes, it is but will take longer to make progress. I compare it to learning Spanish as an adult vs. as a child. The reason is that the neuropathways are more solidified with adults compared to children.  Therefore, the letter confusions are more permanent and will take longer to correct.  However, with therapy of three or more hours a week, progress can be made.  The bottom line is that it takes a true commitment of the adult.

P. R. How does this differ from what's taught in schools? 

T. R. For years, the Slingerland Institute had trained teachers using this method with hopes it would reach the schools.  Unfortunately, because most principals are not aware of these methods they are not supported by administrators and many of these children end up in Special Education with an IEP. The Slingerland Method is available in many Catholic Schools in the Oakland Diocese.  It has widespread support of the diocese and I treat children who attend Catholic schools.

The Lindamood Bell method is available in only two schools in Oakland.  The Susan Barton Method is available in the Pleasanton USD and San Ramon USD.  Both Lindamood Bell and Susan Barton require one on one tutoring and most schools cannot afford to have one employee work with one student several hours a week.  It is really through parental efforts and pressure that enable these methods to be available in the public schools, typically through a lawsuit settlement, or through private tutors certified in these areas.  I am certified in both Lindamood-Bell and Slingerland.

P. R. Thanks Theresa.

For those interested in learning more, please visit Dyslexia Connections.