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Innovative Ways to Solve the Mystery of Dyslexia


Phonics instruction provides a tool that helps readers decode (break the code) created by combining written symbols and letter sounds. Two types of children struggle with phonics. Both types lack the ability to discriminate between similar sounds. Children with Deep Dyslexia also have trouble with sight words.

Children with Phonological Dyslexia benefit from flash cards but fail to hear subtle differences in sound-to-symbol combinations. (The sounds are not logical.) Elephant /e/ and igloo /i/ require auditory discrimination, which is the ability to hear small differences in sounds.

Phonics from Project Read® offers excellent methods for teaching letter sounds because movements and pictures serve as reminders of sound differences. Consider the steps below.

  • Tell the child to trace the letter while repeating, “The name is _______ and the sound is _______.”

  • Trace the letter in a memory pan (Project Read®) and fill a pan with salt, dry corn meal, or sugar. Avoid flour, which may cause sneezing.

  • Demonstrate skywriting by tracing in the air using large movements.

Skywrite the letter with the child while saying, “The name is _______, the sound is _______.”

Combining various senses (seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, smelling, and moving) help both Deep and Phonological Dyslexia. Follow the steps below:

  • Touch the child and say, “Look at me. Look at my mouth and notice the placement of my tongue and teeth when I make this sound.” (All vowels are made with an open mouth, tongue, and teeth and are called “open sounds.”)

  • Give the child a mirror and say, “Make your mouth, tongue and teeth look like mine.” Use the phrase, “The name is _______, the sound is _______.”

  • Make the sound an additional time and ask the child to touch your throat. Voiced sounds make a vibration in the throat. Vowels and most consonants create voiced sounds. (Unvoiced consonants include: /p/, /t/, /sh/, /ch/, /k/, /ck/, /qu/, /sl/.)

Children with Deep and Phonological Dyslexia benefit from teachers with advanced education in Academic Learning Therapy. Because most teachers lack ALT, the suggestions above provide ideas for regular and special education teachers who care and yearn to help.

As teachers assess individual children, decisions must be made concerning when to intensify sound-to-symbol instruction and when to rely on the child’s comprehension (Deep Dyslexia) and ability to use flash cards (Phonological Dyslexia). Matching letter names and letter sounds provides a useful tool for most but not all beginning readers. The good news is that children who lack auditory discrimination can still learn to read. Extreme challenges require extreme teaching measures.


Besner, D. “Deep Dyslexia and Right Hemisphere Hypothesis.” J. Psychol. Vol. 34, No. 4, pp. 565-571. 1983.

Carlson. “Types of Dyslexia.” Welcome to the Dyslexia Homepage. Macalester College. 1998.

Frandsen, Barbara. “Slaying the Dragons: 21st Century Literacy.” AuthorHouse. Bloomington, IN. 2013.

Greene, T. & M.L. Enfield. Project Read – Framing Your Thoughts. Bloomington, MN: Language Circle Enterprise.

———- Project Read – Narrative Comprehension. Bloomington, MN: Language Circle Enterprise


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