Expert Opinions from Noted Authors in this Research Area
Lyon & Moats (1988, Critical issues in the instruction of learning disabled, J. of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 56, 830-835) had concluded "there is overwhelming empirical and clinical data indicating that medical and psycheducational models, as they are presently conceived and used, are inadequate for determining what and how to teach learning disabled students." Pg. 225
Eleven years later the conclusion remains the same as Birsh, J (1999, Multisensory teaching of Basic Language Skills) concluded that "despite the widespread inclusion of multisensory techniques in remedial programs for dyslexic students and a strong belief among practitioners using these techniques that they work, there was little empirical evidence to support the techniques' theoretical premises." (Pg 7)
The Orton method has been in existence for over 60 years. Despite it's widespread use in the school system there has been only one well designed study with a control group which has been completed to date.
According to a recent scientific article (Journal of Learning Disabilities), it takes 350 hours of interventions with the Orton-Gillingham method to produce "modest" results (averaging +.34 SD (standard deviation) across several tests), which included improvements on reading comprehension, word recognition, polysyllabic words when comparing the control to the experimental group. There was no effect on Spelling or monosyllabic decoding skills. The same "modest" result was obtained with an Orton-Gillingham video tape.
An Evaluation of the Dyslexia Training Program: A Multisensory Method for promoting Reading in Students with Reading Disabilities, Journal of Learning Disabilities, Mar/Apr 1998, Vol 31, Issue 2, Oakland, T, Black, J. et al.
The authors concluded that "reviews of the treatment literature on dyslexia reveal a limited number of scientifically sound and clinically relevant reports of significant treatment effects." (pg 336)
Comment: It is unfortuneate that so much time, effort and money has been spent on an intervention program which has so little scientific research to support it's implementation on such a wide scale.
Phonic Intervention Programs
In one, different phonological approaches were employed on an hourly basis for a full school year and none of them obtained any improvements in word reading. Similarly, a computer based phonemic awareness intervention program obtained no significant effect in achievement levels.
Early Interventions for Children with Reading Disabilities, Foorman, Francis, Winikates, Scientific Studies of Reading, 1997, p 255-276
One of the problems with this line of research, apart from problems of replicability, is that the gains achieved in phonic
pronunciation don't always generalize to the intended goal - improved reading skills.
Comment: Phonic intervention programs have received considerable mass marketing efforts over the past 10 years with little scientific evidence to support their use.
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