Month: February 2022

“Further Down the Rabbit Hole:” #Dyslexia

Since this blog and its over 500 entries are not entirely about dyslexia/reading disabilities, I was determined for this week  not to continue going down the “dyslexia rabbit hole.”

But, as I was organizing books on my shelf  (yes, I still have hard bound physical books), a few caught my eye and there I was back down the hole again.

Many parents come to me and say the school is not doing the right thing by not giving their child the “Orton-Gillingham” methods or its spin-offs like Wilson (an Orton-based program).

I often ask them what they know about the Orton methods.  Typically, I get an understandable shrug and a sheepish, “not much.”

Here’s something to ponder about Orton-Gillingham – Sam Orton, M.D., a neurologist and psychiatrist was born in 1879!!!!!

Yep, 1879!

The current methods, while somewhat modernized under the category of “putting old wine in new bottles,” are almost unchanged since Dr. Orton collaborated with Anna Gillingham in the 1930’s.

That fact continues to boggle my mind.

From a couple of the musty books on my shelf are some quotes from Orton’s 1930’s text, “Reading, Writing & Speech Problems in Children.”

“The children with a specific reading disability are almost never reading for a pastime. Their whole tendency is to turn to athletics or mechanics or social activities as an outlet.”

“With cases of reading disability encountered somewhat later in their school progress, the feeling of inferiority is apt to be marked as a result of their repeated failures.”

“Intelligence does not always correlate with reading skill and in any group of nonreaders all ranges of intelligence are to be found as they would be in any casually selected group of people.”

These quotes could be from any modern day researcher.

More next week as I continue to go further down the hole.

Copyright, 2022
Questions or comments email Dr. Selznick:




Part II: Understanding the ‘D-Word’: #Dyslexia

As  we discussed in the last week’s post (“Misunderstanding the “D-Word'” ), the problem with the use of the word “dyslexia,” which has become quite popular among parents and professionals, is that the word is almost universally misunderstood.

We encouraged you to ask the question at your Super Bowl gatherings to a few people (off to the side) as to what they knew about dyslexia, with the inevitable response involving reading “upside down and backward or reversing.”

To set the record straight, this definition from the NICHD (National Institute of Child and Human Development):

Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin.  It is characterized 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 reduce reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.

Well, there you have it.  Sound like anyone you know?

Notice,  there  is no mention of upside down or backward reading in the definition.  There is also no mention of IQ scores (which in the state of New Jersey is an essential aspect of classifying a child with a learning disability).

To address the child showing these features, just like having difficulty with a sport skill, such as hitting a baseball,  you would find someone who could teach the basic skills.

The same is true with addressing the “D-Word.”

I would encourage you to let common sense prevail when it comes to these reading problems.

If you ask yourself, “Is your child struggling with reading” and the answer is “yes,” then regardless of the ultimate “diagnosis,” the child needs help, whether this is provided by the school or on the outside in the form of tutoring with appropriate methods supported in the research.

It really isn’t all that mysterious.

Copyright, 2022
Questions or comments email Dr. Selznick:



Misunderstanding the “D-Word” (Yep, #Dyslexia)

Not sure how it happened, but it seems that there has been a wave of parents that think that their child has “dyslexia.”

They also often note that many people in their family, such as the parents and grandparents also have or had dyslexia (even though most were never formally assessed).

Having been in the business a while, I know that before about 15 years or so ago the word “dyslexia” was almost never mentioned (except by people like myself) .

The problem with the “D-Word” (as I jokingly refer to it) is that it is nearly universally misunderstood.

Try this experiment.  While gathering with friends and family at your Super Bowl get-togethers, ask about five people individually, “What do you understand dyslexia to be?”

(Since it’s not a particularly fun experiment at a Super Bowl gathering, do it quietly off to the side.)

In an almost group hypnotic response, you will likely get some variation of the following response, “Isn’t that when you read upside down and backward?”

It’s like asking someone,  “What’s jogging?  Can you define it for me,” and they say, “Isn’t that when you try and run as fast as you can – sort of like they do in the 100-yard dash.”


The misunderstanding would have the impact of rendering the word challenging to use.

That’s the problem we have with the “D-Word”

(More on this in the next post.)

Copyright, 2021
Questions or comments email Dr. Selznick:


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