Holly Graves & Associates,
"Research does not support the common belief that Orton-Gillingham–based approaches are necessary for students classified as dyslexic."- Int'l Literacy Association, 2016
Yes! Current research, much of it supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), has demonstrated the value of explicit, structured language teaching for all students, especially those with dyslexia. Programs that work differ in their techniques but have many principles in common. The multisensory principle that is so valued by experienced clinicians has not yet been isolated in controlled, comparison studies of reading instruction, but most programs that work do include multisensory practice for symbol learning. Instructional approaches that are effective use direct, explicit teaching of letter-sound relationships, syllable patterns, and meaningful word parts, and provide a great deal of successful practice of skills that have been taught. Fluency-building exercises, vocabulary instruction, language comprehension and writing are also included in comprehensive programs of instruction and intervention. Word recognition and spelling skills are applied in meaningful reading and writing of sentences and text passages, and students receive immediate feedback if they make mistakes. Guessing at words and skipping words are discouraged and replaced by knowledge of how to analyze and read unknown words. Other key principles of instruction are listed below.
IDA has supported the development of a matrix of multisensory, structured language (MSL) programs to enable consumers to see the similarities and differences among various programs. The programs were chosen for inclusion in the matrix because they have a long history of use in clinics and classrooms where the programs have been refined over time. These programs included in the matrix are those used at every "tier" of student ability. Some are designed for whole class instruction to prevent academic failure. Some are designed for small group instruction. And some are designed for the intensive instruction needed for students with severe reading disabilities. This Matrix of Multisensory Structured Language Programs is posted on the IDA website for downloading or can be obtained in print form from the IDA bookstore.
Holly Graves & Associates,
Dr. Orton and his colleagues began using multisensory techniques in the mid-1920's at the mobile mental health clinic he directed in Iowa. "Research does not support the common belief that Orton-Gillingham–based approaches are necessary for students classified as dyslexic."- Int'l Literacy Association, 2016Dr. Orton was influenced by the kinesthetic method described by Grace Fernald and Helen Keller. He suggested that kinesthetic-tactile reinforcement of visual and auditory associations could correct the tendency of confusing similar letters and transposing the sequence of letters while reading and writing. For example, students who confuse b and d are taught to use consistent, different strokes in forming each letter. Students make the vertical line before drawing the circle in printing the letter b; they form the circle before drawing the vertical line in printing the letter d.
Anna Gillingham and Bessie Stillman based their original 1936 teaching manual for the "alphabetic method" on Dr. Orton's theories. They combined multisensory techniques with teaching the structure of written English, including the sounds (phonemes), meaning units (morphemes such as prefixes, suffixes, and roots) and common spelling rules. The phrase "Orton-Gillingham approach" refers to the structured, sequential, multisensory techniques established by Dr. Orton, Ms. Gillingham, and their colleagues. Many programs today incorporate methods and principles first described in this foundational work, as well as other practices supported by research.