View Full Version : Questions about School Psychiatrist and Orton-Gillingham Method


amber3902
10-21-14, 09:25 AM
My daughter, age 9, has recently been diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD, primarily inattentive. I received this diagnosis by a psychiatrist from the developmental-pediatric department of a children's hospital.

I have started D9 on Strattera for the ADHD. I also found a tutor that specializes in tutoring dyslexic kids using the Orton-Gillingham method. D9 will have one hour tutoring sessions twice a week. This is not through the school system so I will be paying for this out of pocket - $65 an hour.

I met with the school to request my daughter be evaluated for an IEP. Now, this is what the school psychiatrist did at the meeting. First she said she wanted to wait on an evaluation because according to her, my daughter was still "making progress". This is baloney, D9 was promoted to 3rd grade but was promoted with deficiencies. She's still in an intervention program and is still below grade level in reading.

So I spoke up and said "No, I don't want to wait any longer. She's still below grade level in reading and I want her evaluated."

So then the psychiatrist turned to the other teachers that were at the meeting and asked them, "Does the team feel D9 should be evaluated?" Now, correct if I'm wrong, but if a parent wants their child evaluated, they don't need the school's permission, right? This ticked me off, but I bit my tongue because the other teachers immediately spoke up and said they felt D9 should be evaluated.

But I tell you all this just to show you this psychiatrist's attitude.

Well, D9 has ADHD and anxiety. If she has problems doing her school work she will have a melt down and start crying uncontrollably. If I'm able to get an IEP for her, as part of the IEP, I want her to meet with a school counselor to help her with her anxiety issues. However, I'm afraid the person that would do this is this same school psychiatrist whose attitude I did not like.

Is it the school psychiatrist that meets with kids to help them with anxiety issues?

Also, does anyone know of the names of some other multi-sensory methods besides Orton-Gillingham? I've been searching online but can't find a list of methods. When I mentioned Orton-Gillingham during the meeting, the teachers didn't seem very enthusiastic about it. The special ed teacher said that there are other multi-sensory methods besides Orton-Gillingham. I have emailed her to ask her the names of these but haven't heard back from her yet.

Lunacie
10-21-14, 11:48 AM
My ADHD granddaughter was on Strattera for awhile,
it didn't do anything to help with her anxiety.

Her mom didn't push to get her an IEP at school, and by the time
she got to high school she was begging to be allowed to attend
e-academy (online school) instead.

Her anxiety is still inhibiting her, and she's been started on an anti-
depressant for that and will be seeing a therapist again.

I really wanted to say "bravo!" to you for voicing your concerns to
the school team and pushing for an evaluation.
:yes:

My younger granddaughter (dx autism) saw the school counselor
to deal with problems like anxiety - and I strongly feel she made
the problems worse. Between her and one of the SE teachers,
my granddaughter ended up attending the special school for kids
with bad behavior.

After a year working with people who were willing to try different
ways than the local school, she was doing well enough she didn't
need to be in that school. The choice was the local school or a new
class in a different school set up specially for kids with autism.

She's a whole different kid in that environment - she has a great
teacher who understands autism and normal teenage angst. :yes:

zette93
10-22-14, 10:14 AM
You're lucky the school psychiatrist asked that question of the teachers. She knew you had the right to the evaluation, and that you had legal avenues to follow if they refused. If you were recording the meeting (and you SHOULD record all IEP meetings), having the teachers verbally say yes strengthened your case legally if the school administrators refuse to evaluate.

Sometimes it's not just knowing the law that is important, it is knowing the system and the players and having the "soft skills" to steer the meeting where you want it to go. I highly recommend that you use an educational advocate to guide you through the rest of this process.

The original Orton-Gillingham program was developed in the 1930's-1940's. It is THE method recommended by the International Dyslexia Association and has tons of research to back it up. There are around 7 or 8 programs currently in use that are descended from the original O-G. I found a list, there may be others: Barton Reading, Sonday System, Logic of English, Slingerland, Wilson Reading, MTA (Multi-Sensory Teaching Approach), Alphabetic Phonics, Language!, Project Read, Recipe for Reading, PAF (Preventing Academic Failure).

From what I've read, the only non-OG method that is widely accepted and has evidence is Lindamood-Bell.

The school district is unlikely to have anyone trained in any of these methods. They will offer your daughter whatever reading program they use. The danger is that she will get time with a resource teacher that is just 1:1 teaching of the reading program that has not worked for her in general ed. You are smart to pay for an O-G tutor, it could take years to get your daughter what she needs from the school district.

Legally, you don't have the right to insist on an O-G program. However, you do have the right to know the NAME of the program they plan to use so that you can investigate it and be an informed participant in the IEP process. Then you can come back and make a case that the program they are proposing is NOT systematic, multi-sensory, and evidence-based (which is stronger than research-based.)

I have some videos to recommend, but the moderators here don't allow links. I will PM the links to anyone who asks:

On the LearningAlly site, click Parent Services tab, then Webinars link, then Past Webinars button, and scroll down a ton and look for a free webinar called "Know Your Rights" by Kelli Sandman-Hurley. On the same site, "Dyslexia & the IEP: How to Make Sure the IEP is in Tip-Top Shape" also by Kelli Sandman-Hurley. I also got there by googling "Kelli Sandman-Hurley webinar free"

Susan Barton has two websites with a lot of free videos. If you google "Susan Barton Bright Solutions" and "Susan Barton Reading" and "Barton Reading and Spelling" you will find them.

Here are some books you should read:
Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz
From Emotions to Advocacy by Peter Wright

zette93
10-22-14, 10:35 AM
Also, it's not enough to be multi-sensory. The program also needs to be systematic and explicit. I would take the name of the proposed program back to the person who did the diagnosis and ask for an opinion. Any chance that person will attend the IEP meeting with you?

amber3902
10-22-14, 12:13 PM
Thanks, I did have an advocate with me at the meeting. She did speak up when the school psychiatrist tried to claim that my daughter was making progress when she wasn't.

I have read that Susan Barton recommends the same thing you're saying, that the public school is unlikely to have anyone trained in Orton-G methods in order to provide the type of tutoring that my daughter needs, so a parent should get private tutoring in an Orton-Gillingham based method instead.

The person that did the diagnosis was the psychiatrist from the hospital I work at - the Medical University of South Carolina. In her evaluation under recommendations, she recommended a "comprehensive reading program that employ a multi-sensory approach (e.g. Orton-Gillingham structured language approaches)." I could ask her if she would attend the next meeting, the worse that could happen is she says no. Or I could ask her to write a letter explaining why it has to have all the appropriate elements.

But now my question is this - since the school is unlikely to provide the kind of tutoring that my daughter needs, should I not even bother asking for tutoring from the school? Or if the program the school proposes is not systematic, explicit, multi-sensory, and evidence-based, what do I do? Do I fight for them to pay for my daughter's private tutoring?

I just heard back from the special ed teacher this morning. She told me they use many kind of multi-sensory techniques, such as sky writing, magnets, sandpaper, and action learning, such as jumping while saying math multiples.

Which leads me to another question - since my daughter is already receiving the right kind of tutoring outside the school system, if the school says they will provide my daughter with a multi-sensory method of tutoring, should I accept it so long as it provides SOME of the elements dyslexics need, but not all? Is there any harm in using more than one multi-sensory based method to teach to my daughter at the same time?

zette93
10-22-14, 03:28 PM
But now my question is this - since the school is unlikely to provide the kind of tutoring that my daughter needs, should I not even bother asking for tutoring from the school? Or if the program the school proposes is not systematic, explicit, multi-sensory, and evidence-based, what do I do? Do I fight for them to pay for my daughter's private tutoring?

This is a very difficult decision. Your advocate may be able to give you an idea of what the school is likely to initially offer, how long you have to let them try it to prove that it isn't working, and how hard the fight would be to get them to pay for tutoring.


I just heard back from the special ed teacher this morning. She told me they use many kind of multi-sensory techniques, such as sky writing, magnets, sandpaper, and action learning, such as jumping while saying math multiples.

This may not be as effective as O-G unless the instruction is also systematic, explicit, comprehensive, addresses both reading AND spelling, and requires mastery checks before moving on to new material.

For example, before O-G, my son's teacher tried focusing on onset-rhyme activities (ie learning all the -at words like rat, hat, mat, etc., and -ink words like sink, think, drink, etc,) You can do this using sky writing, magnets, sandpaper, etc, but it still has a fundamental flaw in that it is not explicitly teaching them to sound out r-a-t and s-i-n-k, and to hear the word "rat" and to learn to break it into the sounds /r/ /a/ /t/, and map those to the right letters. It also doesn't have an explicit progression of learning the individual letter sounds, learning to blend, mastering the short a before moving on to the short i, before moving on to blends like -nk, etc. In my son's O-G program, "sink" came about 20 levels after "rat", where a less systematic program might rush from one to the other.



Which leads me to another question - since my daughter is already receiving the right kind of tutoring outside the school system, if the school says they will provide my daughter with a multi-sensory method of tutoring, should I accept it so long as it provides SOME of the elements dyslexics need, but not all? Is there any harm in using more than one multi-sensory based method to teach to my daughter at the same time?

That's beyond my expertise. I would borrow the materials they plan to use (assuming it's an actual curriculum and not just an eclectic mix of their own) and ask for an opinion from the tutor.

zette93
10-22-14, 03:37 PM
Well, D9 has ADHD and anxiety. If she has problems doing her school work she will have a melt down and start crying uncontrollably. If I'm able to get an IEP for her, as part of the IEP, I want her to meet with a school counselor to help her with her anxiety issues. However, I'm afraid the person that would do this is this same school psychiatrist whose attitude I did not like.

Is it the school psychiatrist that meets with kids to help them with anxiety issues?


I'm pretty sure the school has a psychologist, not a psychiatrist. The latter is a medical doctor who can prescribe medicine. I'm under the impression that a degree in school psychology can be had with just masters level training, although some do have doctorates. I'm not sure how much it focuses on actual counseling vs assessment.

If you have health/mental health insurance that will cover counseling for anxiety, I would recommend using it. You have more ability to find out what is actually going on and switch providers if you're not happy with it.

amber3902
10-23-14, 10:39 AM
I was able to get in touch with Susan Barton via email and ask her some of the same questions.

I'm posting her replies here so they can be of benefit to others as well.

My Question- Since my daughter is already receiving the appropriate type of tutoring outside the school system, if the school says they will provide my daughter with a multi-sensory method of tutoring, should I accept it so long as it provides some of the elements dyslexics need, i.e. systematic, cumulative, phonic based, but not everything that a Orton-Gillingham method would provide?

I guess what I'm trying to figure out is this, there are a lot of multi-sensory techniques I've found on the internet. Is there any harm in using more than one multi-sensory based method to my daughter at the same time? Since Orton-Gillingham is cumulative, if she's being taught in two different but still multi-sensory based methods, will that confuse her?

Her answer: Yes, that will confuse her.

A child with dyslexia should never be tutored in more than one program for reading and/or spelling -- not even if they are both O-G based programs. Although O-G programs end up teaching the same things, each uses different methods during the lessons, gives different names to the same rules, and introduces things in a different order. That would only confuse her -- and it would slow her progress.

Research proves that the reading, spelling, and writing skills of a child with dyslexia can be greatly improved if they are tutored using an Orton-Gillingham based system. That is why it is the only approach recommended and endorsed by the International Dyslexia Association. Their fact sheets on Orton-Gillingham are attached.

So please keep your daughter in one O-G based program for reading and spelling tutoring. Do not allow the school to provide other "help" for reading and spelling.

amber3902
10-23-14, 10:43 AM
This is a very difficult decision. Your advocate may be able to give you an idea of what the school is likely to initially offer, how long you have to let them try it to prove that it isn't working, and how hard the fight would be to get them to pay for tutoring.



Since I'm already paying for the private tutor, here's my plan. Ask for tutoring that includes all of the elements of an Orton-Gillingham method. They will most likely not provide it, or provide something that does not include everything. Then I'll say that since they are not providing what my daughter needs, that they need to pay for her private tutoring.

The worst that can happen is they say no. But in the meantime, my daughter is getting what she needs anyway.

zette93
10-26-14, 09:32 AM
Susan Barton is amazing. I love how willing she is to answer questions like that over email.

Your plan sounds like a good one. Does you advocate think you've got a shot at getting the school to pay for tutoring? Be sure to come back and tell us how the IEP meeting goes.

amber3902
10-27-14, 10:04 AM
Susan Barton is amazing. I love how willing she is to answer questions like that over email.

Your plan sounds like a good one. Does you advocate think you've got a shot at getting the school to pay for tutoring? Be sure to come back and tell us how the IEP meeting goes.

I emailed my advocate my plan of attack but I haven't heard anything back from her, so I don't know how good a chance I have for getting the school to pay for tutoring. But the worst that could happen is they say no, right?

I'll be sure to give an update on the IEP meeting. I've calculated they have until Dec. 15th to do the evaluation, and since they already have the evaluation I had done by the hospital, it shouldn't take them the full 60 days to do their stuff.

I also wanted to give an update on my daughter's tutoring. She went for the first time last Thursday and it went AWESOME. As soon as we left, she told me, Mom, I like this tutoring so much better than the other tutors I had.

She showed me a game the tutor had her play called Snatch. It was a deck of cards with three and four lettered nonsense words all focusing on the short "a" sound. For the first time, my daughter was accurately sounding out words. She has always confused the "b" and "d" sounds, but she caught herself each time and corrected herself.

I am so glad we started this tutoring, this is EXACTLY what my daughter needs. PHONICS! PHONICS! PHONICS! None of this "whole" word crap that the school focuses on. The teacher that works with my daughter in her intervention class tried to tell me the English language is not based on phonics. Take for example, she said, the word "against". She said it's not phonics based. Bullcrap. If it's not phonics based, then why do you start the word with the "a" sound, "g" sound in the middle, and end with the "st" sound? :scratch: MOST words in the English language can be sounded out, it's better to memorize the few exceptions to the rule, than expecting a child to memorize the entire English language. Because when a child comes to a word they've never seen before how do they expect them to figure it out? SMH.

Even my advocate was saying that you have to do a combination of both sight words and phonics, so I'm not too confident in her ability to back me up on what my daughter really needs.