One student in five has dyslexia. That means in any given classroom approximately six children have dyslexia. Most don't get help because they are of normal intelligence or higher.

Lisa calls dyslexic students our throw away kids.  Why?  Because they are bright, frustrated, sensitive, perceptual children who aren’t getting the help they need.  Society casts them out into a cold winter   without a coat, shoes or a scarf.  They're placed in classrooms without strategies to read, spell, and write.  Is it any wonder that 48% of the America prison population has dyslexia?












Non-Traditional Methodologies Work!

Even when kids with dyslexia qualify for special education, they rarely receive the proper help they need, such as brain integration, visual processing, auditory processing, and memory building activities and exercises that will teach them to overcome dyslexia.  They are often given the same reading program that they battled with all day at school...the very one that didn't work.

At Harp, we teach kids with dyslexia through a variety of methodologies.  To start with, we strengthen sensory weaknesses (both visual and auditory) and fill in learning gaps.  Next, we work with the student to build new neural pathways in the brain.  We also work on memory building, as most students with dyslexia are weak in both auditory and visual memory. 


Finally, we teach the students to read and spell through an Orton-Gillingham based program where kids cross the mid-lines of their bodies, use movement, color, rhythm, pictures, patterns, and phonemic units.  This gives students with dyslexia strategies to read and spell.  This combination helps them sound out words instead of guess.  



Our copyrighted TouchTile Reading System starts with basic consonant-vowel-consonant words in both nonsense and real words.  From there, we move the student to blends, vowel pairs, digraphs, word endings, and multi-syllable words.

In conjunction with the TouchTile Reading System, we use the Free to Read Strategic Decoding System, which helps break those pesky bad reading habits that students with dyslexia typically have.  

It's this combination that revs the students's  "reading engine".  At Harp, the average reading jump is five grade levels through the course of our program.     

Taming the Homework Monster


Often parents think their dyslexic children aren’t trying hard enough or that they’re lazy, especially at homework time.  They spend hours helping these kids do homework, only to find that the information they knew the day before is like new material.  Homework battles start.  Emotions flare.  Wear and tear on both parents and kids sets in and sometimes, the entire family is affected!

It doesn't have to be that way!

Kids with dyslexia usually want to do well in school.  They are usually working at capacity and then come home to an overwhelming amount of homework.  Research indicates that homework isn't beneficial for students until they're in high school.  Add an already fatigued student to the mix, and you're bound to have meltdowns!

Misdiagnosed and Misunderstood


Sadly, these dyslexic students are usually overlooked by schools because they are so bright, creative, and intelligent.  To top it off, it is difficult to get a firm diagnosis of dyslexia because there is a cross-over with this condition and other neurological disorders.  Symptoms of ADD/ADHD, visual processing disorders, and auditory processing disorders. 


Many students with ADD/ADHD are misdiagnosed and medicated when all they need are the actual symptoms of dyslexia treated.


All too often,, students with dyslexia are placed on harsh medications when they are misdiagnosed with ADD/ADHD.  Parents often report that their children are like "zombies" and have lost that special "spark" that makes their children unique. 

Parents of students with dyslexia are frustrated and not sure what to do.  They know their child is smart.  But when report cards come out, three hours of homework ensue, behavior issues crop up, or their child retreats into a fog, then emotions flare.  Often these students lose their self-esteem and think they are dumb or stupid.  A pill, twenty minutes of extra reading a day, more homework, or punitive measures will not help a student with dyslexia. 

What is Dyslexia?


A student with dyslexia can perceive a single image in forty different ways.  And where dyslexia was once thought to be primarily visual, new research reveals an auditory component as well.  The information, whether auditory or visual , comes into a student’s brain, becomes jumbled, and the output is confused and disoriented.


Most people think that dyslexia  is where kids reverse letters, but there's much more involved than that.  Dyslexia is a processing problem.  We process visual information with our brains but take in light and focus with our eyes.  We also process auditory information in our brains but take in sounds with our ears. 


The breakdown occurs when the sensory information isn't taken in correctly.  It is processed differently.  Because of this, students with dyslexia view the world differently than others,  Some kids figure out how to push through dyslexia or figure out coping mechanisms that help them navigate both school and life. 


It becomes a problem when students can't reach academic success, which in turn interferes with life achievement.  Self-esteem plummets.  They withdraw or act out, often getting in trouble at school.  They fear trying new tasks in case they might fail.  They often do fail, ending up using coping mechanisms that might not be the best choices.  Often, they'll do anything so people and peers don't think they're stupid.  





Dyslexia Doesn't Go Away on Its Own!


The first thing to realize is that dyslexia isn’t just going to go away on its own.  With proper treatment and intervention, students with dyslexia can learn to perceive and understand both visual and auditory stimulus.  With specific, regimented and developmentally based brain integration exercises,  students with dyslexia can become "whole brain" learners.  This means they are wired correctly for learning and can access both the left and right hemispheres of their brains when needed.  

"Whole Brain" learners are happy learners, because learning is effortless!

Left alone, dyslexia consumes lives like a wildfire.  Even worse, each year that passes without help is a year that compounds, doubling the gap that keeps the student from success.  

Symptoms of dyslexia can appear as early as preschool, but often it isn’t until third or fourth grade when a student falls behind in class enough that help is sought.  This is due to many reasons.  Print becomes smaller by this time, which causes reading and other subjects to become more difficult.  The dyslexic student usually learns to read by memorizing instead of decoding. 


For instance, this student might be able to read the word "dinosaur", because she has memorized this word since it's easy to put a picture with that word.  You probably have a picture in your mind right now of a dinosaur.  But give these kids an easy word like "for" or "saw", and they fall apart. 


This is because there is no picture to place with these words.  Enter a multi-syllabic word that doesn’t have a picture to go with it, and the student shuts down.  He ends up guessing at words, avoids reading, or uses stalling and delay tactics.  The word "disgusting" is read as "discouraging".  

Word guessing does not lead to excellent reading or spelling skills.  It leads to a student with poor fluency and comprehension skills.  It leads to a lack of strategies, poor self-esteem, and an extreme dislike of reading, something that should be fun!








Dyslexia Law

Dyslexia research has been around for over one hundred and thirty years.  Still, the public school system overall refuses to deal with this very real learning disability.  A new law was passed in the United States in October of 2015 that insures that students be tested for dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia.  Here is a link to the Dyslexia Law.


This is certainly a coup, but what happens after the testing?  It is too soon to find out, but even if the dyslexic student qualifies for special education (an IEP), then she must still be able to pass a high school exam to receive a diploma.  While going to special education, the student often receives a watered down curriculum, misses important teacher instruction, is teased or even bullied for going to special classes, picks up mannerisms and behaviors that aren’t ideal, and is rarely exposed to higher level thinking.


Symptoms of Dyslexia

Students with dyslexia often do well in school until the third or fourth grade.  This is because the print becomes smaller and the words become more difficult. As reading becomes more difficult, they fall further behind.  As mentioned before, since they don't have strategies to sound out words, they rely on memorizing and guessing.


They often omit or misread small, easy to read sight words, have poor fluency, poor decoding skills, and often struggle with comprehension. 


When it comes to sounding out multi-syllable words, these kids fall apart!


These kids are weak in phonemic awareness, which  refers to the ability to focus on and manipulate individual sounds (phonemes) in spoken words. Phonemes are the smallest units comprising spoken language are the small units of sound that build our language.

Because dyslexic students struggle to learn strategies to read and spell, they need a reading program with a strong phonological basis.  The patterns become predictable and before long, the student is reading fluently, answering questions, and enjoying reading. 

Unfortunately, mainstream reading programs that offer phonemic awareness typically don't offer memory building, movement, and brain integration activities and exercises, so the dyslexic student rarely makes big enough strides.

Dyslexic students not only struggle to read but to spell, too.  Lisa has found that spelling is the last component to come into place when filling in academic and sensory learning gaps for these students.  That's why we focus on spelling last.  For kids with dyslexia, the process of spelling is like climbing an endless mountain.    




One of the most difficult things about dyslexia is that it isn’t outwardly visible, so the expectations are higher.  Couple this with a high vocabulary and high intelligence, and this leads to a student with a low self-esteem and who is functioning poorly in school.

Early recognition with a dyslexic student is important.  So, what are some symptoms of dyslexia?  Following is a list, not just from the professionals who have designed tests, but from over thirty years of working with dyslexic students.  You might be surprised by some of them!

Warning Signs of Dyslexia

  • pushing hard on a pencil when writing

  • making circles upside down or not starting at the top, counter clock-wise

  • tilting the head when doing school work

  • slumping, poor core control

  • high vocabulary but cannot translate it into reading and writing

  • above average intelligence

  • seems to be in a “fog” a lot of the time – spacing out or daydreaming

  • writes and reads letters or words backward after one full year of instruction

  • has an unorganized desk, backpack, or room

  • difficult time learning to tie shoes

  • difficult time understanding a clock or “time” concepts

  • has an excellent long term memory, but can’t remember simple instructions or details

  • exhibits extreme discrepancy between ability and achievement

  • has a family history of dyslexia or other learning problems

  • learns to read by memorizing words instead of sounding them out

  • spells phonetically or inconsistently

  • has a difficult time with two to three step directions

  • has a difficult time reading small sight words such as for or saw

  • displays poor sounding out skills when reading aloud

  • skips lines when reading

  • has a difficult time with directions – left, right, up, down

  • has a difficult time with rhyming

  • hates school or feels dumb

  • has trouble telling time with a clock with hands

  • has an extremely fast or slow processing speed of information

  • either acts out or withdraws in response to learning and school pressure

  • has messy handwriting and artwork

  • grips pencil tightly when writing

  • has a difficult time copying from the board

  • has a difficult time copying from a book to paper

Myths About Dyslexia

  • dyslexics see things backward or upside down – only

  • dyslexics cannot read at all

  • dyslexics are not smart

  • dyslexia is rare

  • you can outgrow dyslexia

  • more reading practice will help a dyslexic student master the skill of reading

  • the schools will help a student with dyslexia overcome this problem

  • dyslexia is primarily a visual problem

  • if you work hard enough at academics, dyslexia will go away

Truths About Dyslexia

  • dyslexia impacts 20 percent of people, about one out of every five

  • dyslexic kids will hit a wall by third or fourth grade, if not sooner, if they don’t receive proper intervention

  • 9 out 10 dyslexic students will not receive the help they need

  • 48 percent of the United States prison population is dyslexic

  • 40 percent of dyslexic kids are also diagnosed with ADD/ADHD

  • a pill or medication will not make dyslexia go away

  • dyslexia is more complex than just a reading and spelling issue

  • dyslexia will not just go away on its own

  • the sooner you get help for a dyslexic student the better the outlook for academic and life success

  • there is a genetic component to dyslexia

  • dyslexia can be overcome with the right set of tools and with a strong learning foundation

  • images and sounds in the mind can be stilled and taught to be processed correctly so that

  • dyslexic people usually have a “gift” that accompanies their learning disorder, whether it's artistic, intuitive, the ability to think on one’s feet, the ability to debate, mechanical, spiritual, or any other assortment of abilities unique to them.

  • dyslexia can be overcome with the proper tools and training

  • people with dyslexia can live productive lives, often surpassing others when it comes to success, ingenuity, work ethic, etc. if they don’t lose self-esteem and self-respect at the hands of the wrong people

  • the symptoms of ADD/ADHD mirror those of dyslexia; since there is no definitive test for ADD/ADHD, then the symptoms of dyslexia should be treated first.  If that fails, then the student should be treated for ADD/ADHD

  • phonemic awareness is a critical component to helping students with dyslexia learn to read and spell successfully

  • the process of helping a dyslexic student includes ups and downs, where at one point the student seems to know a particular piece or lump of information, and then at another time, this information, once previously thought to be learned, seems like new information to the student

  • behaviors related to dyslexia usually involve either retreating or reacting.  It is easier to help a student who is reacting, in other words, having melt downs or behavior problems, than it is to help a student who retreats.  The student who is acting up is outwardly telling us that something is wrong in his world.

  • a dyslexic person may not understand logical, laid out, specific information that is presented to him.  That doesn’t mean he is dumb.  It means that he learns or perceives information in a different manner.

  • if you have been presenting information to the dyslexic student in the same way, same s and teaching him is not working.  To make progress, you need to change what you are doing.

  • There are degrees to the severity of dyslexia

  • a dyslexic student can, and often does, have dysgraphia, dyscalculia, or has been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD.

  • dyslexic students and adults are not receiving the help that they need


So...What is Dyslexia?

  • it is classified as a language processing problem

  • it can be diagnosed as early as one year of age, but I would warn against such a diagnosis until the child has one full year of academic instruction

  • it is difficult to get a clean, clear diagnosis and treatment plan for student, especially through the school system, even with the new law that was passed in America in October of 2015

  • dyslexia is a learning disorder that has been studied for years, yet few people have proven results that will fully cure it.

  • there is a 50/50 chance that a child will be dyslexic if someone in the family also struggles with dyslexia or another learning disability, diagnosed or undiagnosed

  • the brain structure of someone with dyslexia is different than others, however, that only means that the person will process information differently; it has nothing to do with intelligence

  • dyslexic students struggle with a multitude of different issues that are difficult to pinpoint and treat, although with recent brain research, we have been able to look at PET and CAT scans and use that research to properly rewire the student’s brain. 

  • New neural pathways can be created with students of any age, although the sooner the student receives help in this manner, the easier it is to form these pathways

Common Learning Differences Exhibited by a Dyslexic Student

  • directionality issues, such as left, right, up, down

  • a tendency to look at the shape of the word and not the word as separate letters coming together to create meaning

  • the use of the same first and last letters with the same shape, such as "gril" for "girl", "who" for "how".

  • pulling down other letters from lines being read, especially l’s and r’s.  For instance, if the student is reading and an l is in the line above the word bow, he could read the word as blow or bowl.

  • reading multi-syllable words but struggling to read, one syllable sight words

  • difficulty with spelling words within a sentence, even though that word was previously learned and thought to be memorized in a spelling test

  • difficult time pronouncing multi-syllable words like helicopter, hippopotamus, elephant, cinnamon, aluminum, or consistency

  • mixing up the pronunciation of words; "aminal" for animal, "ephelant" for "elephant", "ambliance" for "ambulance", "pasgetti" for "spaghetti"

  • visual and spatial issues, avoiding puzzles, mazes, hidden pictures at an early age

  • avoidance of reading, writing, and spelling

  • verbal but not matching skills when it comes to reading and writing

  • higher level thinking skills, but lower level academic achievement

  • poor phonemic awareness

  • understanding what is read to them by pictures or other clues but not be decoding

  • reluctance to play memory games

  • the ability to recall and retell a movie in great detail but displays the inability to recall simple, basic information that was presented

  • poor test taking skills

  • spending hours on homework or other academic duties when less time is needed


Strategies that Don't Help the Dyslexic Student

  • telling the student to try harder

  • telling the student he is lazy

  • having the student do more repetitious activities, such as were done at school

  • drill and kill worksheets

  • putting more pressure on an already exhausted learner

  • adding more homework or academics to the student’s regimes

  • allowing self-esteem to suffer

  • waiting too long for interventions, thinking that it is something the student will outgrow

  • allowing hours of homework on top of an already exhausting school day

  • failing to acknowledge the student’s strengths

  • holding back positive things, such as a sport or extra-curricular activity that the student is good at due to poor grades

  • disciplining and basing the student’s worth on report cards

  • telling her to practice more

  • giving more reading time without instruction or help; this only sets in poor reading skills

Strategies that Work for the Dyslexic Student

  • telling directions in more than one way, slowly and clearly

  • positive encouragement for activities, life skills, etc. that are achieved

  • a goal oriented project, sport, or program where the student can start with achievement and success

  • organizational charts, calendars, color coding

  • hands on, tactile methods of learning

  • an individualized plan for success – not gauging the student’s success as compared to others

  • a skills mastery program where the student doesn’t move up until a skill is mastered, from there build upon the skills already achieved

  • when the student is old enough, introducing mazes, cross word puzzles, puzzles, word search puzzles, find the hidden picture, and other similar activities to help build visual skills

  • using color, rhythm, music, and movement in conjunction with academics to drive in skills that are weak

  • getting a diagnosis and understanding of dyslexia so that you can help the child

  • role playing or acting out social or academic skills that are weak

  • teaching the student cursive, since this method of handwriting flows with the brain and is difficult

  • giving directions one step at a time until auditory memory skills are built up

  • a strong phonemic awareness based program to teach reading and spelling rules

  • a multi-sensory approach to teaching reading and spelling skills

  • limited video and computer time; this just feeds into their already right brain dominant systems


Gifts Portrayed by the Dyslexic Child

  • often extremely athletic

  • often very artistic

  • many are gifted and talented thinkers

  • many are musically gift

  • highly developed social skills

  • very sensitive and endearing

  • extremely curious

  • many are highly intuitive

  • mechanically gifted

  • creative thinkers

  • uncanny 3-D visualization skills

  • global thinkers

  • are able to problem solve








Some Famous Dyslexic People

  • Tom Cruise

  • Whoopie Goldberg

  • Justin Timberlake

  • Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter)

  • Jay Leno

  • Henry Winkler

  • Steven Spielberg

  • Jennifer Aniston

  • Richard Branson

  • Cher

  • Galileo Galilei

  • Steve Jobs

  • Anthony Hopkins

  • Keira Knightley

  • Ozzy Osbourne

  • Pablo Picasso

  • Nikola Tesla

  • Bella Thorne

  • Jules Verne

  • Charles Schwab

  • Guy Ritchie

  • David Rockefeller

  • Keanu Reeves

  • Salma Hayek

  • Alexander Graham Bell

Those Creative Kids!

Keep in mind that the creative side of our brain has been responsible for most of the truly magnificent and wonderful things that have happened in history, from paintings, sculptures, writing, poetry, bridge building, scientific phenomena, strategic war missions, technological advancements and designs, works or art, dance, and music, and a multitude of others. 

Schools today have cut art, physical education, sports, music, plays, automotive technology, and a host of other crucially important classes and activities that have helped carry the dyslexic student through a school day.  Where would we be today without Steve Jobs, Alexander Bell, or many of the other brilliant dyslexics who have created so much in the world.

Nurture your dyslexic student or child and value his gifts.  Who knows where they just might lead.

Few people realize that the brain has plasticity throughout our lifetimes and that by performing specific exercises over and over new neural pathways are formed. For children with dyslexia, this is crucial. By performing these activities over and over again, new pathways are formed and the swimming, moving, or crooked images in the dyslexic child's brain will be stilled.

Have you ever taken the time to ask dyslexic students how they view the world?  For starters, their world is in motion. They view the world as if it is a motion picture. Or, it may be upside down, slanted, or wavy.  These kids might actually tell you that the words on their papers are wiggling.  For most,  it is a scary world because it isn't holding still. These are the students who retreat. 


They will retreat and fail to step out into the world because it is moving and they can't find a safe way to navigate. Others might be bolder, trying to keep up with the motion of their world. These are the active kids who are often wrongly misdiagnosed as having ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ). Often they are medicated, which does nothing to steady their spinning world, but it can keep them calm and quiet so that they aren't a nuisance to anyone.





Kids with dyslexia have gifts and talents that go unnoticed and unappreciated. Since their world is viewed differently than most people's, they have so much to contribute. But first we need to help them still the motion in their brains so that they can succeed in school and become contributing members to society.

A diagnosis of dyslexia is not the end of the world!  New research indicates that this is a condition that can be overcome.  It takes work and a specific treatment plan, but it does not mean that these intelligent students should fall through the cracks and not receive the help they need.  

At Harp, we specialize in helping dyslexic students not only develop crucial reading and spelling skills, but also helping the dyslexic student navigate a world that can be extremely frightening without appropriate intervention measures.


















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