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Keys to Success:
What Parents Can Do


#1: Enroll your dyslexic child in an appropriate tutoring program.


Your child needs the RIGHT kind of tutoring to overcome their reading

and spelling struggles.

Unfortunately, there are dozens of ineffective programs that claim to

help dyslexics but are a complete waste of time and money. You may

have already tried some of these.


For more information, go to my page,

"Dyslexia: What Does and Doesn't Work."

The appropriate intervention for dyslexia is a research-based

methodology referred to as Structured Literacy, also referred to as the

Orton-Gillingham approach. It is designed specifically for the dyslexic brain.

#2: Do not allow any other reading programs to be administered.


While your child is receiving intensive, one-on-one, Structured Literacy tutoring, withdraw them from any other reading or spelling programs they may be receiving at school.  Additional forms of reading instruction can create confusion and slow your child's progress.

#3: Become an advocate for your child and request school accommodations.


Along with Structured Literacy tutoring, your child should also receive classroom accommodations.

Examples: The student's work is graded on content, not spelling.

                  They take oral tests instead of written tests, with someone reading the questions to them.

                  They listen to audio books instead of attempting to read the books themselves.

It is critical that you understand which accommodations your child needs. Even though he is entitled by law to receive them, the school may not offer them to you unless you explicitly request them. Click here for a list of common dyslexia accommodations,


To read about myths and misunderstandings associated with dyslexia accommodations, click here.

Empower yourself to become your child's best advocate by watching Susan Barton's excellent accommodations video.

#4: Ensure that your child learns to type, sooner than later. 


Writing difficulties can pose a huge challenge to people with dyslexia. To help them avoid unnecessary frustration and failure in the area of writing, please pursue these two excellent work-around solutions:


       • Act as your child's scribe. Have your child dictate to you while you write for them.

       • Get your child started on a typing tutorial if they haven't yet learned formal keyboarding skills.

Typing is much easier for most dyslexic people than writing. Additionally, keyboarding on a computer will give them access to the spellchecker. Therefore, it is critical that they learn to type. Get your child set up with a program such as “Type To Learn” from Sunburst Software, or free online programs such as and Help them to stay with it until they achieve mastery. Learning to type will revolutionize your child's life!

#5:  Read to your child daily.


While your child is in the early stages of dyslexia tutoring, DO NOT require them to read for themselves. This forces them to "guess-read,” which defeats the purpose of the principles they are learning in tutoring.

Instead, you will be the reader until they are capable of reading accurately and fluently for themselves.

Having a daily reading time with your child has many benefits. As your child listens to you read, they will absorb new vocabulary, become familiar with the the flow of phrasing, and pick up on your vocal expression. Plus, reading together is a fun, relaxing experience that creates a special parent-child bond. 

It will also be helpful to read your child's homework assignments and textbooks to them, to ensure that they are not misreading the information or becoming overwhelmed by reading difficulties.

Eventually, your child will become an independent reader, thanks to the Structured Literacy tutoring you are providing for them. But in the meantime, your help in this area will contribute greatly to their success in tutoring, in school, and in life!

You can also provide your child with audio recordings from the local library, from or from Learning Ally at The public library system is another excellent source of audio recordings.

#6: Help your child identify and develop their interests and talents.


Don't let your child's sense of value be diminished by a weakness in reading and spelling. Help them build their sense of identity around their strengths.

Common areas of strength in individuals who are dyslexic include:
Art, graphic design, athletics, music, cooking, gardening, nature, outdoor activities, animals, pet-care, dance, computers, drama, mechanics, building or fixing things, activities that use logic and strategic thinking, science, medicine, travel, emergency response, hair-styling/beauty skills, "people skills," and anything hands-on!

In addition, be sure to emphasize their personality strengths! Which of these describe your child?
Trustworthy, respectful, kind, honest, generous, adventurous, ambitious, creative, friendly, patient, compassionate, loving, optimistic, persevering, disciplined, hard-working, helpful, humorous, imaginative, curious, intuitive, determined, clever, capable, courageous, cheerful, empathetic, insightful, visionary, easygoing, articulate, dedicated, high-energy, enthusiastic, free-thinking, flexible, logical, calm, fun-loving, thoughtful, responsible, gracious, loyal, fair, efficient, dependable, able to think "outside-the-box."

#7: Educate yourself about Dyslexia.


Although tutoring greatly improves a dyslexic student’s reading, spelling, and

basic writing skills, it doesn't “cure” them. Dyslexia is a genetic trait that will

impact your child's life in many ways for the rest of his life. The better you

understand it, the more you will be able to help them understand it and

work with it. You will also equip yourself to become their advocate.


The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan, by Ben Foss, is an incredibly helpful

resource for parents. I strongly urge you to order this book and begin reading

or listening to it immediately. It will become your go-to guide for the future.

The more familiar you are with dyslexia, the better equipped and confident you will be to advocate for your child. I encourage you to avail yourself of the many excellent resources awaiting you online, including Bright Solutions for Dyslexia and The Yale Center For Dyslexia and Creativity.

Excerpted and adapted from “What Parents Should -- and Should NOT – Do”
by Susan Barton, Developer of the Barton Reading & Spelling System, Used with permission.

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