"Growing Readers Together"
Suzanne Knoelk MS, CALP
Using Multi-Sensory Techniques to
Reach Struggling Readers

Meet Sue Knoelk....... Passionate educator, well versed Reading Specialist, and all around children's reading champion. Sue loves what she does on a daily basis. 
"As a classroom teacher, I was puzzled why some students struggled so much trying to apply phonics skills in their reading and spelling and why after dedicated instruction and practice, these students still were not fluent" ...............more

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1. Question: I suspect my child may have dyslexic. What do I do now?

     Answer: Diagnosing dyslexia is best done by a Pediatric Psychologist or Neuropsychologist. Schools are not able to give this diagnosis, nor am I qualified to do so. I might also suggest that you have a Comprehensive Eye Exam done by a qualified practitioner to make sure your child’s eyes are functioning and tracking appropriately.

2. Question: What can be done at school to help my child?

    Answer: If your child is diagnosed, a 504 Plan or I.E.P. (Individualized Education Plan) can be written and put into place as needed to address accommodations and/or supports. If your child does not have a diagnosis of dyslexia but is struggling with reading or spelling/writing in school, talk with your child’s teacher and/or school Principal early regarding possible accommodations or interventions that would be helpful for your child. Keeping the lines of communication open between home and school is critical.

3. Question: What can I do to help my struggling child?

    Answer: The answers to this question vary according to your child’s age and specific areas of difficulty, but all children will benefit from patience and understanding, a quiet place to do school work with few distractions, a routine, and movement breaks as needed. Ask your child’s teacher or the Reading Specialist at your school for suggestions about strategies, materials, or resources. Follow through and use them, and then keep the dialogue going by sharing your results. Sometimes as a parent it is hard to work with your own child as a teacher. In this case, you might also want to obtain the services of a qualified tutor who will know what to do to work with your child on his/her areas of difficulty.

4. Question: How is your tutoring different than other tutors? What will you do to help my child have success?

    Answer: In addition to my teaching experience, I have earned a Master of Science degree as a Reading Specialist and have completed an extensive 14 month training program at the Children’s Dyslexia Center in LaGrange, IL to be a certified Orton-Gillingham tutor. I also became nationally certified by the Academic Language Therapy Association as a Certified Academic Language Practitioner. Networking with other professionals is important to me, and I am constantly learning by participating in continued professional development. As a Reading Specialist, I am knowledgeable about various assessment tools as well as the best resources and materials. I combine all of this to tailor individualized lessons for your child utilizing a structured, sequential, multi-sensory approach. I love to teach, but more than that, I love and respect children and all the different ways they learn.

5. Question: How long will my child need tutoring?

    Answer: There are many variables here, including how extensive your child’s struggles are, their attitude and level of focus, consistency in tutoring, how easily and quickly he/she learns and retains information and skills, and the age of the child. I prefer to have two tutoring sessions per week for most students. I will assess your child to see where his/her strengths and weaknesses are, closely monitor progress during tutoring and make adjustments as needed, and move as quickly as possible but as slow as necessary to bring mastery. You’ll be kept informed and we’ll work together the whole way. My goal is to offer support, give children the tools they need to be successful, and enjoy watching them go fly on their own!

Dyslexia Facts

What is Dyslexia?

  • Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent work 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.
  • Dyslexia is manifested by variable difficulty with different forms of language, often including, in addition to problems reading, a conspicuous problem with acquiring proficiency in writing and spelling.
Etiology of Dyslexia
 The causes are neurobiological and genetic.
  • Studies show that individuals with dyslexia process information in a different area of the brain than do non-dyslexics.
  • Recent neurological research indicates that during gestation, nerve cells migrate into the outer layer of the cerebral neocortex.
  • These clusters of nerve cells are call “ectopias” and are mostly found in the language processing areas of the cortex.

Dyslexia is a neurologically based disorder that interferes with the acquisition and processing of language.  Varying in degree of severity, it is manifested by difficulties in receptive and expressive language, including phonological processing, in reading, writing, spelling, handwriting, and sometimes in arithmetic.  Dyslexia often runs in families and is not a result of lack of motivation, sensory impairment, inadequate instructional or environmental opportunities, or other limiting conditions, although these may occur together.  Emotional disturbances and behavioral difficulties are often secondary results.

     A Person With Dyslexia May Have:

  • Difficulty with rapid automatized naming (the ability to quickly retrieve the name of phonological code corresponding to a pictured item or written word) 
  • Difficulty with letter sequencing and spatial organization
  • Difficulty with handwriting
  • Difficulty with word retrieval (finding the “right” word)
  • Difficulty with time and directionality
  • Can have a family history of similar problems
  •  Lack of awareness of sounds in words – such as order, rhymes, or sequence of syllables
  •  Difficulty decoding words
  •  Problems with reading comprehension
  •  Difficulty expressing thoughts orally or in written form
  •  Delayed speech development
  •   Imprecise or incomplete interpretation of language that is heard
  •  Confusion about right hand or left hand
  •  Difficulty with mathematics, often related to sequencing of steps, directionality, or the language of mathematics

Although it is not curable, individuals with dyslexia frequently respond successfully to timely and appropriate intervention.  People with dyslexia CAN learn, but they must be taught in a manner appropriate to their particular strengths and weaknesses.