Overview of Orton-Gillingham

  • Orton-Gillingham is a phonetically-based, sequential, structured method which is extremely effective in the remediation of reading, spelling, and writing of dyslexic students.  Sound symbol associations are taught, employing all of the learning pathways – auditory, visual, kinesthetic, and tactile.  The system builds from simple to complex units of language.  It is most often taught on a one-to-one basis, but can be taught to groups by an experienced teacher.
  • Definition of Dyslexia

Dyslexia is a neurologically-based, often familial, disorder which interferes with the acquisition and processing of language.  Varying in degrees of severity, it is manifested by difficulties in receptive and expressive language, including phonological processing, in reading, writing, spelling, handwriting, and sometimes in arithmetic.  Dyslexia is not a result of lack of motivation, sensory impairment, inadequate instructional or environmental opportunities, or other limiting conditions, but may occur together with these conditions.  Although dyslexia is lifelong, individuals with dyslexia frequently respond successfully to timely and appropriate intervention.

  • Dyslexia is considered a specific language disability.  Other learning disabilities may or may not be present.  It is a disorder that exists across a continuum, with varying manifestations depending on the individual.
  • Some Characteristics of a Dyslexic Child
    •  Difficulty saying the alphabet correctly in sequence.
    • Difficulty forming shapes of letters.
    • Difficulty writing the alphabet in sequence.
    • Errors in naming letters.
    • Reversals, additions, transpositions, omissions, and substitutions when reading or writing.
    • Difficulty in learning and remembering printed word.
    • Difficulty with handwriting.
    • Difficulty with reading comprehension.
  • Secondary Characteristics
    • Receptive/expressive language skills.
    • Delay in spoken language.
    • Difficulty finding the “right” word.
    • Late learning directionality.
    • Problems with temporal sequencing.
    • Family history of similar problems.

 Research has shown that these children respond best to a structured, multi-sensory, rules-based approach.

  • Testing and evaluation of dyslexia is important to better understand the problem.  Test results provide a basis for planning educational programs, and often determine eligibility for special programs.  Testing should be done by an expert professional, and should include developmental background, and academic and behavioral history, intellectual measurements, cognitive processing measurements, test of language skills, and educational achievement skills.
  • Orton-Gillingham Instructional Approach
    1. Neurological basis
    2. Diagnostic and prescriptive
    3. Multi-sensory
    4. Structured and sequential
    5. Synthetic and analytical
    6. Cumulative
    7. Cognitive
    8. Flexible
    9. Teach toward automaticity
    10. Emotionally sound
  • The Orton-Gillingham curriculum teaches, at appropriate developmental times, phonograms for decoding and encoding spelling rules and generalization, and syllable types.  In addition, an appropriate mastery of non-phonetic (sight words) is expected. Readingis very controlled initially.  Eventually, other materials are introduced that have been previewed for the readability level of the student.
  • The lesson plan has six parts:  phonograms; new work/word list; What Says?; SOS (simultaneous oral spelling); dictation; and oral reading.  All parts reflect the principles of the Orton-Gillingham instructional approach.
  • The length of time required to complete the Orton-Gillingham curriculum varies with each student.  Appropriate follow-up, sometimes simultaneously, includes multi-sensory studies in comprehending non-fiction and fiction, morphology (prefixes, roots, suffixes), dialogue journals, and study skills.
  • Scottish Rite Orton-Gillingham training involves both theoretical studies and seminars, as well as a supervised practicum.