Solving Literacy Problems – Case Study No.7


LUKE Blog 2

Having spent all of his early years in an Eastern European orphanage, Luke was adopted into an Irish family when he was nearly 4 years of age. As he progressed through the Irish educational system, he was eventually assessed in 5th year with a diagnosis of ‘Severe Specific Learning Difficulty / Dyslexia’. Luke’s parents had flagged their concerns to the school but were assured that he was ‘doing fine’. Due to the difficulties that were identified in the cognitive assessment, Luke obtained an exemption from learning Irish. He received learning support hours and was sanctioned special accommodations for his Leaving Certificate examinations, which included the use of a laptop. The psychologist also recommended a referral to my clinic and service.

Luke first attended my clinic for remedial therapy when he was 17 years of age and in 5th year in school. He presented with a severe reading accuracy disorder, an associated severe reading comprehension disorder and a severe spelling disorder. After only 7 one-hour therapy sessions (1:1) that were spread over 2 months and daily practice with the WordsWorthLearning literacy programme, Luke’s reading and spelling skills were reassessed.  His reading accuracy and reading comprehension skills were found to be advanced and his spelling skills were normal for his age group. Luke and his mother were very focused and approached every task in hand with enthusiasm and diligence. As Luke’s specific learning difficulty was now resolved, it was agreed to discharge him from my service.

Nearly two years later, I was contacted by his mother to inform me that Luke had not only obtained an A in his leaving Certificate honours English, but had also secured a place in the coveted university and course of his choice.  He is now in the final year of his honours degree course. Prior to literacy intervention, the leaving certificate points required for his course would have been far beyond his ability.  Well done Luke.

So what can we learn from this?:

  1. Luke was assessed by an Educational Psychologist at 17 years of age to be in the ‘average’ range of I.Q., although in reality his intelligence was far beyond that. It was only through appropriate literacy intervention that Luke was able to unlock his true intellectual potential and demonstrate that he was in fact a very bright young man.
  2. As I say to most parents, trust your gut instinct! – if you feel there is a problem and your child is underperforming, do get formal standardised assessments either via the school or privately.
  3. It is never too late to treat and remediate a literacy disorder successfully.
  4. Structured literacy intervention, using a phonemic (speech sound), rule based approach is essential for Dyslexic students.
  5. Ongoing revision at certain intervals is recommended, just to keep the reading and spelling rules and strategies fresh in the mind.
  6. For the WordsWorthLearning programme I cannot stress enough the importance of continually using highly visual flashcards for irregular or difficult words encountered in a text book. For those with dyslexia this is a skill for life!
  7. Luke’s determination and ambition to succeed helped him to be open-minded to intervention and he even reached goals beyond his expectation.

NOTE: To protect “Client Confidentiality” the client name has been changed.

Rita Treacy

Dyslexia Specialist – Speech & Language Therapist – creator of the online WordsWorthLearning programme for resolving reading & spelling problems.

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