Archive for dyslexia

The case for labeling

This young man with dyslexia wrote an excellent blog post about why labeling your child with dyslexia is not a bad thing! It can be very liberating and empowering. Kids know when something is “wrong” with them, but if they don’t have a label they will think the worst. This usually means they will label themselves as “stupid”. Don’t let that happen to your bright dyslexic child!

Dyslexic Advantage Community

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Does your child’s spelling list make sense?

The spelling list your child brings home every week can tell you a lot about how they are teaching reading and spelling at his/her school. If the words are following a similar pattern, such as “bat, cat, can, lap” (short-a words) or “nation, vacation, conviction, election” (all “tion” words), then spelling is being taught as a skill that follows predictable patterns and can be learned through word-study.

However, if your child’s spelling list looks more like “autumn, apple, because, doll” and is just random words or a list of sight words that do not follow any particular pattern, then you should be concerned. Your child is being taught that spelling is random and all words must be memorized. This is not an efficient way to learn how to read and spell!

As a side-note: yes, around 10% of English words do not follow the pattern, and these must be learned by rote. But those 10% of words still all have predictable parts and only one or two letters which must be memorized! This should be pointed out to children, and studied using multisensory techniques.

Learning By Design has published this great list of Ten Things Parents Can do to Improve Spelling. I encourage you to take a look!

Free Dyslexia Screening!

I am pleased to be able to offer a free dyslexia screening to any child in Kindergarten or 1st Grade. This screener was developed by dyslexia researchers in Mississippi. It takes around 15-25 minutes to administer and will give you a range of results for different skills such as rapid naming, reading nonsense words, and spelling, which are possible indicators of dyslexia. It will also provide a score from “Low-Risk” to “High-Risk” for your child. You will get a report and can use these results to determine whether you need further testing from a psychologist or the school.

Please contact me at 505-920-5218 or santafereadingtutor at to schedule a time for your screening.

If your child is older than 1st Grade, I offer a low-cost assessment which will give you similar information; contact me for details.

confusing short e and short i sounds

Many of my students confuse the short e and short i sounds in words. This can be due to accent or vowel confusion, but it often comes out in both reading and spelling, and causes a lot of confusion. One way that we work on this is by using a speech-therapy technique known as “minimal pairs”. In this activity, the student is presented with a list of words that only differ in the vowel sound, such as “bed/bid” (they can be real or non-sense words). I provide a sheet of paper with the words printed out (usually on pastel paper, to reduce any glare for reading), and read one word from each pair at random. I have the student circle which one they heard, and we compare to see how many they got correct. Then, we switch, and they are the reader, while I see if I can get their words correct. This helps them to both be aware of how the vowel sounds and how it is produced. Many of my students improve greatly with this simple exercise!

Here is a free list of e/i words to use with your own students: short-e and short-i minimal pairs.

How to tell if a student is reading by sight or phonics

Kids who have been taught whole language methods often read quite well when given high-frequency words, yet struggle with words that have the exact same patterns but are not on the Dolch or Fry lists. Why? Because they have been taught to memorize, not generalize.

Here is a quick, simple test to see if your student is reading based on memorization, or is actually decoding the words:

Have them read both the first and 2nd sentence. The first sentence has only Primer sight words (ie, high frequency words). The 2nd has words that have similar phonics patterns but are not sight words. If they read the first sentence quickly but the 2nd slowly and make errors then they are using their memory, not phonics knowledge, to read. If they read both sentences equally well, they are doing well with sounding out the words and using their phonics patterns.

E. G. Johnson’s 2-Sentence Reading Test (thanks to Don Potter for sharing this on the SpellTalk listserv)

1. Mother will not like me to play games in my big red hat.

2. Mike fed some nuts and figs to his tame rat.

Online Multisensory Grammar Instruction

Does your grammar need a brush-up? Are you dyslexic or an English language learner? Does your child have dysgraphia? Is he or she struggling to learn the parts of speech?

If so, you need online multisensory grammar lessons! Here is a screen-shot of the board I use for the Basic program: Multisensory Grammar Board. I offer a free consultation and demonstration, so please contact me at santafereadingtutor at for more details!