As the landscape of struggling children gets more and more complicated, with parents confused to know where to turn or what to do next, I do my best to simplify things. One area to simplify is the reading remediation your child is receiving.

Presuming you have had your child assessed (whether in school by the special education team or on the outside by a professional who does this type of testing), if you are not clear on the target of the remediation to follow, I encourage you to ask what should be the emphasis of the instruction.

After all of these years of conducting assessments and reading the literature (when I can), I still see two fundamental reading problems.

The first I call, “Type I.”

Type I readers are the ones that make up 80% of the referrals for special education. These kids struggle with internalizing adequate decoding skills. Their oral reading fluency is problematic beyond the level of words that they have memorized. Spelling and writing (open-ended writing) are always an issue. Most of their “comprehension” problems come from the word substitutions (e.g., “pricapinny” for “porcupine”) and the strained style of reading which creates a great deal of interference. The vast majority of kids of the Type I variety, especially those that are more moderate and severe on the continuum fit the definition of “dyslexia.”

Type II children are very different. These kids read fluently, but have difficulty understanding what they read. This group is a much smaller percentage, but they exist.

If you are seeking remediation (tutoring), get clear on what you are targeting; don’t scattershot the remediation. If the teacher doing the tutoring says something like, “I do a little of this and a little of that,” that should raise some red flags of concern.

Good testing should help you get clear on what you need to have emphasized. (In many ways, that is the central point of doing the testing in the first place.)
Be laser-focused in your approach so you can hit the right target.

(Adapted “School Struggles,” (2012), Richard Selznick, Ph.D., Sentient Publications)