I went through school hoping no one found out that I was a little bit dumb.

– Shannon Green describing how she felt going through school with dyslexia (not diagnosed until college)

“Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.”– Wilson Language site

Major Components of Dyslexia

  • Phonological deficit: Difficulty distinguishing sounds and matching sounds to letter
  • Naming Speed deficit: slower processing, slower word recall when naming objects
  • Visual: difficulty with vision in motion (unable to keep visual target stable when head is in motion)
  • Automization deficit: It takes longer/more practice for these students to achieve automaticity on any task
  • Cerebellar Deficit: Cerebellum is responsible for coordination and smooth movement, but it is also connected to processing auditory and visual information. People with dyslexia have an immature cerebellum. Research is underway looking at the benefits of movement exercises to facilitate development of the cerebellum.
  • Difficulty with working memory
  • In people with Dyslexia, the right hemisphere is more active than left hemisphere à good creativity, but has difficulty with organization. Don’t see whole picture and are unable to break goal into manageable components.

At Porter Academy

At Porter Academy, we utilize the following techniques that were recommended by Dr. Reid to help students with Dyslexia (and are beneficial to all students).

    • Self-esteem and empowerment in learning
      • Provide opportunities for students to feel empowered in their learning. Help them to figure things out on their own rather than just telling them the answers.
      • Classroom needs to provide structure and predictability while still allowing some flexibility and student choice in learning.
      • Specific compliments immediately after completing a small task.
    • Organization/metacognition – teach them how to learn for themselves
      • Describe overall goal of activity and break goal into small steps.
      • Scaffold child’s work by providing supports at each step
      • Provide opportunities for students to self-monitor and self-correct.
      • Reflect on what was learned at end of task – what was easy, what was hard, favorite/least favorite part, how this relates to other things, etc. This is important for transference of knowledge to future situations and/or other contexts.
      • Have the students tell what they learned in the previous class at the beginning of each new class.
      • Meta-cognitive cycle: We need to walk them through this until they are able to do it on their own
        • Question: What do I need to do? What is my goal?
        • Clarifying: Find answers to any questions.
        • Understanding: Understand what needs to be done.
        • Connecting: Connect experiences from multiple contexts to current goal
        • Directing: Figure out steps – direct self in what needs to be done.
        • Monitor own progress
        • Self-assess
    • Accommodations/Techniques – general
      • Use experiential and mulit-sensory learning whenever possible.
      • Incorporate visuals whenever possible.
      • Limit copying by providing handouts. Graphic representation of ideas are great. Written presentation: large print, high color contrast, easy font.
      • Use short sentences with easy vocabulary.
      • Provide specific rules for spelling ( Wilson Language System)
      • Try colored overlays over white paper.
      • Layer information
      • Cerebellar Development through iLs and sensory motor activities during occupational therapy


The above information came from a presentation by Dr. Gavin Reid and Shannon Green on September 25, 2009. Notes taken by Lynn Schoeneck, OTR/L and Claudia Porter, SLP.

International Dyslexia Association

NIH National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)

Dyslexia Consultants

Reid, Gavin (2004). Dyslexia: A Complete Guide for Parents. 2nd edition will become available August 2011.

Shaywitz, Sally, M.D. (2003). Overcoming Dyslexia: A New and Complete Science-Based Program for Reading Problems at Any Level.

What Sets Us Apart

  • Developmentally Grouped Homerooms
  • Differentiated and Individualized Academic Instruction
  • Utilization of a Variety of Well-Supported Academic Programs and Multi-Sensory Instruction
  • Small Groups for Core Academics
  • Group Speech-Language, Occupational, and Music Therapy for all