Don’t Wait…Trust Your Instincts!

We now know that reading difficulties are persistent.

help for reading difficulties
Reading difficulty is not just a developmental lag, or something that a child grows out of. We know that in the vast majority of cases, time alone will not help a struggling reader.

The five year old who can’t quite learn his letters becomes the six year old who can’t sound out words, and later becomes the 14-year old who reads excruciatingly slow.

reading difficulties can affect attitudes toward schoolA child who is unable to automatically sound out words is destined to become a poor reader who will then miss out on important reading practice, essential for building reading fluency and vocabulary. Research shows that without access to the right kind of instruction, the writing and spelling abilities of a poor reader typically do not improve.

Close the reading gap“Reading is an integral part of every subject area, and each year that a child fails to break the code causes the gap between those who read proficiently and those who are struggling, to grow larger. In order for this child to “catch up” he needs to progress over and above normal. Waiting only causes your child to fall further and further behind.”

Sally Shaywitz, Yale School of Medicine

The good news is that we can identify children at risk of future reading failure with over 90% accuracy, as early as five and one half years, and we know the kind of instruction that will help your child succeed. Have your child tested. Figure out what the problem is early. He can never get those crucial years back.

Although it is never too late to provide intervention, there is no doubt that early intervention closes the gap more quickly and prevents a child from needing to struggle. A child, who gets the right kind of help early, never has to feel stupid or incompetent; self-esteem remains intact. An older child has more hurdles to overcome due to secondary symptoms such as poor self-esteem, depression, anger and frustration, and/or anxiety… to name a few. Researchers tell us that only one in five students who read poorly at the end of 1st grade will ever catch up to grade level reading unless they have access to specialized intervention programs that are different from traditional instruction.
Trust your instincts. If learning to read seems too difficult for your child, then it probably is. Get help for your child- and most of all – don’t wait. Get effective help for your child before the gap grows larger! As Sally Shaywitz writes, “I have yet to meet a family that feels they acted too soon.”


Facts You Should Know

  • 20% of children DO struggle with reading, spelling, and writing DESPITE having average or above average intelligence, parents who read to them, dedicated teachers, and even high performing schools.
  • Five or six children in every classroom of 30 encounter moderate to severe difficulties in learning to read, even though they are smart and capable. In 2000, a panel of educators and scientist convened by Congress concluded that reading disability stems primarily from difficulties in recognizing the connection between speech sounds and letters.
  • Dyslexia is the leading cause of reading difficulty and is NOT rare. One out of five children has an inherited brain difference that will make learning to read and spell a struggle by traditional methods.
  • People with dyslexia can read, but not proficiently. They rarely read for learning or pleasure. They attempt to read by memory rather than “sounding out.” These inefficient strategies are highly unlikely to ever move a student beyond the 3rd or 4th grade reading level.
  • Dyslexia can be identified with 92% accuracy at ages 5 ½ to 6 ½ but school testing, even testing for Special Education, does not diagnose dyslexia. Furthermore, most students with dyslexia do not qualify for Special Education.


  • Typically children are not screened for learning disabilities nor have offered special help until they are already fallen far behind their peers. According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, it takes FOUR TIMES as much assistance to improve a child’s reading skills if help is offered in 4th grade versus starting in mid-kindergarten.
  • Two-thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare. (Huffington Post, Begin to Read, RIF,SCI Learn)
  • According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress in Reading, also known as the Nation’s Report Card, 70% of all 8th graders read below grade level. Sixty-five percent of all 12th graders read below grade level, which means there are about 6 million struggling readers grades 7-12.
  • Uneducated girls are four times more likely to have a child before their 19th birthday than those with a secondary education. (The National Assessment of Adult Literacy)
  • By High School, one in four California students will drop out. (California Department of Education, 2008)

“Good teaching can change the brain in a way that has the potential to benefit struggling readers,” says pediatrician Sally Shaywitz of Yale University School of Medicine.

Inefficient, poor readers DO become efficient readers/writers and successful students when they have access to instruction that matches their learning style, and targets the underlying cause of their difficulty.

From the National Reading Panel: “Systematic phonics instruction produces significant benefits for students in kindergarten through 6th grade and children having difficulty learning to read.”

95% of all reading problems ARE highly preventable IF you find the right kind of instruction. Orton-Gillingham reading programs are effective because they target the underlying cause of the reading struggle…

The Barton Reading & Spelling System is an Orton-Gillingham based program. We use it with fidelity, and it works. Not only do we have 10 years of experience successfully teaching students with the Barton System, we also have standardized data that proves our students catch up to grade level and beyond.

Working with more than 450 students of all ages and profiles, has enabled us to develop additional instructional materials, including Sweet Sounds and Reading Highlights. These materials are designed to work in conjunction with the Barton curriculum, and do not dilute it in any way.

The GOOD NEWS is that we CAN help your child become a successful reader, speller, and writer!