Understanding Dyslexia & Learning Disabilities

Dyslexia is not a disease to have and to be cured of, but a way of thinking and learning. Often it's a gifted mind waiting to be found and taught.
                                                                - Girard Sagmiller, Dyslexia My Life

What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a learning disability that includes difficulty in the use and processing of linguistic and symbolic codes, alphabetic letters representing speech sounds or numeric representing numbers or quantities. It can affect spoken language, written language and language comprehension.

Dyslexia is the most-common learning disability, affecting nearly twenty percent of the population, despite intelligence, motivation, and education. While not the result of neurological damage, it is the product of neurological development. Dyslexia commonly runs in families and varies from mild to severe.

Children don't outgrow dyslexia, and adults with dyslexia suffer emotionally and financially because of it. However, research has proven that explicit, systematic phonics can actually help 'rewire' the brain and help dyslexic students learn to read. The use of the Orton-Gillingham approach by a knowledgeable and experienced teacher can significantly moderate the language learning and processing problems that arise from dyslexia.

What are the Symptoms of Dyslexia?

Read these common, identifying symptoms of dyslexia.

Symptoms of Dyslexia

Dyslexia Research

Research studies have shown that the dyslexic brain can be "rewired" through an investigation of systematic phonics. Click on the links below to learn more about dyslexia and how the Reading Horizons methodology can change the lives of dyslexic students.

Learning to Read with Learning Disabilities

According to Dr. Sally Shaywitz, author of Overcoming Dyslexia, programs that teach phonics systematically and explicitly are the most effective in helping those with learning disabilities learn to read. Reading Horizons teaches how to break down the English language in a sequential, systematic and cumulative format that helps all readers understand, retain and apply effective reading strategies. Reading Horizons provides the foundational concepts that govern the language.



Reading Horizons empowers inidividuals, even those with learning disabilities, with decoding strategies that will help them confidently read unfamiliar text. Most students are able to read high school level words upon completion of the reading program. This does not mean that they are reading at a high school level, which includes vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension; however, those areas will continue to improve as they are exposed to additional text.

Reading Horizons can be taught using direct instruction, computer software, or a combination of the two. Those with dyslexia have the most success learning to read with they work autonomously at the computer and then receive reinforcement through teacher-led (or parent-led) direct instruction.

Reading Horizons enables parents to help their children, whether automatic or struggling readers, become effective readers who are able to decode any word they encounter and increase their fluency and comprehension.

What are Orton-Gillingham Principles?

In the 1930s, physician researchers Dr. Samuel T. Orton and Anna Gillingham concluded that struggling readers, including those suffering from learning disabilities like dyslexia,  flourished when exposed to the structured patterns of explicit, systematic phonics instruction. The Reading Horizons method is sequentially infused with the Orton-Gillingham methods, including:

  • Multi-sensory applications that engage kinesthetic, auditory, and visual cues.
  • Teaches alphabet and phonics principles sequentially.
  • Practical, language-based applications.
  • Logical repetition using familiar styles of learning that allows learners to make language predictions about new language patterns.

Orton-Gillingham Correlation

Systematic phonics instruction has been used widely over a long period of time with positive results, and a variety of systematic phonics programs have proven effective with children of different ages, abilities, and socio-economic backgrounds. These facts and findings provide converging evidence that explicit, systemic phonics instruction is a valuable and essential part of successful reading program.
- National Reading Panel Report

More Information to Help You Understand Dyslexia

Helpful Books About Dyslexia and Learning Disabilities

  • Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz
  • Right-Brained Children in a Left-Brained World by Jeffrey Freed, M.A.T., and Laurie Parsons
  • Helping Your Dyslexic Child by Eileen M. Cronin, Ph.D.
  • You Don't Have To Be Dyslexic by Joan M. Smith
  • When the Brain Can't Hear by Teri James Bellis - Medical - Simon & Schuster