Multi-sensory structured language education is a method of teaching reading, writing and spelling to students with dyslexia or other language based learning differences. The Orton Gillingham approach is a type of multi-sensory structured language instruction. Both MSLE and OG are multi-sensory in the sense that the teacher presents all material in a simultaneous, multi-sensory way. The teacher must engage at least two of the students senses at the same time. Instruction begins with the sounds of the English language (phonemes) and the symbols that represent them (graphemes or letters), moving next to syllables and meaningful parts of words (morphemes--prefixes, roots, suffixes) and on to sentence then paragraph structure and finally discourse organization. Multi-sensory structured language education is the gold standard for teaching children who struggle with reading and writing.
Multi-sensory language education must be systematic and cumulative. The organization of materials must follow a logical order of language and be taught in a systematic way. I use the Take Flight curriculum created be the Scottish Rite Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas to insure my students begin with the most basic elements of language, the sound symbol connection, and progress to more difficult material. Each lesson is cumulative because each subsequent step must be based on elements already mastered by the student. Systematic review assures that the student has mastered material presented earlier.
Multi-sensory structured language education relies on direct and explicit instruction of all concepts. This direct/explicit instruction is always diagnostic and prescriptive. That is to say that when I teach a students I am continually assessing or diagnosing the individual needs of that specific student and addressing the student's particular needs at that moment, or in other words, prescribing what should be worked on next. This particular aspect of multi-sensory education--that it is diagnostic and prescriptive-- is the aspect which differentiates dyslexia therapy in a one-on-one therapeutic setting from a small-group school setting.
In a therapeutic setting, I work one-on-one with students. Focussing on one child at a time allows me to be flexible and exclusively address that specific student's cognitive and emotional needs at that moment. This is different than a small group setting where the therapist needs to meet the needs of several children at a time. One-on-one is the most efficient use of the student's time and parent's resources.
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