Dyslexia - Literacy and Maths Online New Zealand

Go to content

Students on the dyslexic spectrum generally experience difficulty in learning to read.  Dyslexia often runs in families and does not affect general intelligence.  

The following definition was adopted in 2002 by the International Dyslexia Association:
  • Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin.
  • It is characterised by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities.
  • These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction.
  • Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.

Dyslexia often results in primary difficulties in automatic word recognition due to weaknesses in underlying phonological processing abilities such as phonemic awareness. Phonemic awareness is directly linked to a student’s ability to learn phonic word attack strategies necessary to decode unfamiliar words.

Although students with dyslexia often have reading comprehension problems, these are due to problems in “cracking the code” and reduced fluency rather than language comprehension issues. However, reduced reading efficiency can interfere with the acquisition of information typically learned through reading as well as comprehension of complex syntactic structures and academic vocabulary found primarily in written text.

Reviews of the research on reading acquisition have consistently suggested that instructional approaches that are more explicit have the strongest impact on the reading growth of children at risk for reading disabilities such as dyslexia (Snow et al., 1998). The most commonly used interventions appropriate for students with dyslexia share the following characteristics (Moats & Dakin, 2007):
  • Explicit presentation of concepts
  • Structured and sequential order of presentation
  • Multisensory stimulation (visual, auditory and tactile/kinesthetic modalities)
  • Intensive review and practice
Another important issue in reading instruction for students with dyslexia involves the intensity of intervention. Because of the need for more explicit, direct instruction, students with dyslexia often need more time-intensive instruction (Torgesen et al., 2001).  The intensity of instruction should differ depending on the student’s skills level and rate of progress.  Teaching for the student with dyslexia needs to be strategic with systematic progress monitoring to determine if a student should remain at their current intensity level, or move to a more or less intensive level.

Lexia Reading Core5® incorporates all the characteristics of good instruction for students with dyslexia noted above.

Lexia Reading is a great program and I highly recommend it for dyslexic children. Has been good for both of my dyslexics!Parent with two dyslexic students.

Lexia Reading Core5 is a highly structured and sequential blended-learning program designed to create personalised learning pathways for students of all ability levels, including students with dyslexia. Core5 systematically moves students through the six areas of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, structural analysis, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.

When students first log in they are given a selection of questions based on the programs activities, which will help to identify their proficiency gaps and automatically place them at the best start level for their personal reading skills.

After placement, the program automatically provides extra support and instruction for the activity a student is working on if they need help.  If students struggle in a unit, automatic branching moves them to Guided Practice with less distractions and more structure.  If students continue to struggle, they move to Direct Instruction, which explicitly teaches the skill to the students.  If despite the program help a student continues to struggle, the programs reporting tells the teacher which specific skills to provide explicit instruction for, and suggested ideas will be emailed to you to help your student progress.  Students can then move back into the online program for intensive review and practice.

The Lexia learning system also includes paper-and-pencil worksheets called Lexia Skill Builders® that have been developed to reinforce and extend the skills presented in the activity.  Our tutor can email these to you as needed.  

Lexia Lessons and Lexia Skill Builders both provide opportunity for use of multi-sensory techniques that are helpful for students with dyslexia to remember and apply the skills being presented and reviewed.

Symphony Math® is a web-enabled program based on proven cognitive development and mathematical learning principles.

A dyslexic student may have difficulty with math facts although they are often able to understand and do higher level math quite well. Sometimes reading difficulties at a young age interfered with basic math learning and some support is needed to catch up.

Dyscalculia is a seperate, less researched condition that is described as affecting someone's ability to acquire arithmetical skills. Dyscalculic learners do not have an intuitive grasp of numbers or quantity, and have difficulty understanding simple number concepts. They may, but not necessarily, have a poor long-term memory or working-memory. Dyscalculia and Dyslexia are not related, although it is possible to have both conditions.

The best practices in developmental psychology and cognitive science are the cornerstones of Symphony Math®. The uniquely designed delivery methods ensure that students – regardless of learning styles or knowledge levels – fully grasp fundamental mathematical ideas, even for difficult-to-explain and abstract concepts.   The program automatically identifies each students’ levels of proficiency and adjusts the curriculum accordingly.

Like reading, math involves many cognitive processes or systems. When math remediation is most effective and efficient, it employs the same best practices that are used to address reading struggles. We know that using hand motions when teaching songs or poems may be helpful since it provides cues and context clues that reinforce learning of the content. Likewise, the best math instruction utilises student strengths to mitigate weaknesses, and uses context and the integration of multisensory techniques to help the student create meaning and improve memory.

Math-specific skills, including the ability to recognise and relate quantities, should also be assessed and factored into the production of an effective program for students whose atypical learning profiles suggest the need for special attention. Multi-step tasks can be difficult for students who have trouble organising, naming, or sequencing; however, experience has shown that these students can be helped by using instructional methods that forge meaning and context through physically organising objects, naming the action, and writing the process down.  (http://dyslexia.yale.edu/math.html)

Symphony Math® incorporates multiple representations of each math skill.  Students will use visual-spatial modelling, logic activities, fact fluency, and audio as well as visual communication to develop a deep understanding of math. Math is learned in a structured approach, that explicitly teaches each concept and bridges each concept to the previous one.

Students manipulate on screen visual math models such as number bars, number lines, dot cards, and fraction bars that help them to work out the right answer for themselves, and develop important math strategies that will help with higher level math.  Students will not only learn the right answer, but also an understanding of why the answer is correct.

Auditory Sentences familiarise students with the formal language of math.  Written story problems give students the opportunity to apply their skills to real-life problem solving.  

The dynamic branching of Symphony Math® allows students to learn at their own levels.  As the program illuminates an area of need, progress slows and students are provided with more intensive practice and instruction until they achieve the necessary understanding.  Students can instantly get extra hints designed to help them to work out the problem for themselves by clicking their ‘life saver’ button.  Guided Practice Worksheets are available to further support students who could benefit from pen-and-paper tasks in additional to the online activities, and Extension Worksheets are can be supplied to those ready for extension of skills already mastered.

Students who have dyscalculia will need to take more time with their lessons and incorportate the offline practice at every step, so do let us know if this is your child and we can provide more assistance up front to have at home for practice. It may also be advisable to back track and repeat program Stages every now and again as dyscalculic or other struggling mathematicians can benefit from repeated practice and cementing the foundations. Drawing math diagrams, number lines as per Symphony Math end of stage checkpoints should be encouraged throughout lessons, as should practice with concrete models eg math blocks, counters, etc.
Back to content