The Effects Of Dyslexiacentred Teaching

Dr Beve Hornsby spent a year in Bangor in the late 1970s, during which time she collected data for inclusion in a thesis for the degree of M.Ed. She had kept careful records of the reading and spelling performance of children referred to the Dyslexia Clinic at St Bartholomew's Hospital. Records were also available from the Dyslexia Institute in Staines and from our own unit in Bangor.

Beve and I set to work to check how successful the teaching had been at these three centres. What had been attempted had been not just remedial reading and spelling but the use of techniques which took into account the special difficulties of the dyslexic. The teachers had been trained to use techniques that were structured, sequential, cumulative, thorough and multisensory (note 15.3).

I had long been interested in 'single case' methodology (note 15.4). What is involved here is to see what will happen in 'baseline' conditions, that is without any intervention at all. Then comes a period of intervention, and it is possible to compare the subjects' baseline performance with their performance after intervention.

We were able to obtain measures of reading age and spelling age at the start of intervention. We then assumed, in accordance with standard practice, that children can start to have reading ages and spelling ages at age five. Then, if intervention was started at, say, age 10 on a child with a reading age of seven, the pre-teaching baseline score for reading would be | (7 - 5 divided by 10 - 5), and in the same way a baseline score could be calculated for spelling. Reading and spelling ages could be taken again after so many months' intervention and the pre-teaching rate of gain could be compared with the during-teaching rate of gain. The average period over which teaching took place was about 20 months, mostly with once-weekly lessons.

We had data on over 100 children. The average rate of reading-age gain during teaching was 27.5 months, with the same figure for spelling-age gain. In contrast, when the children had been left to the vagaries of the ordinary classroom situation they had made only a gain of six months per year in reading age and only about three months per year in spelling age (note 15.5). If 'keeping up with the clock' is defined as making one year's gain in reading or spelling age per year, 85% of readers and 85% of spellers kept up with the clock. These figures show that, in general, if dyslexic children receive the right kind of help, considerable improvement in their reading and spelling is possible. Should such improvement fail to occur, it seems to me important to find out why.

The signs of dyslexia have recently become so clear that we do not now have to wait for a child to fail to read and spell before dyslexia can be diagnosed (see Hornsby, 1989). Games such as 'I spy' can be introduced at a much younger age.

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Adult Dyslexia

Adult Dyslexia

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