My daughter is in 6th grade and has been now clinically diagnosed with moderate dyslexia. I'm trying to get help for her through her school. The last 3 years she's been failing subjects and not meeting IEP goals. I wanted her to attend a dyslexic academy, however, her school now said they have the Sonday Reading program. Will this program also serve as an effective alternative for a moderate dyslexic? I know it depends on each person, but I would like to know if you have information regarding this program.

Dr. Pierson's Response: 

The Sonday System is well regarded, and I know it quite well as I use it myself. The program uses a structured literacy approach to teach students to read and spell. Without knowing your daughter’s specific pattern of strengths and weaknesses, it is difficult for me to say whether this is indeed the program for her. But, given that it begins with the basics (i.e., phonological awareness, sound-letter understandings, fluency) and then moves on to teaching syllable types and Latin and Greek roots and affixes, it just might be. The first step is an assessment to gather baseline data (as should always be done) to know where to begin. Progress is monitored every 3 lessons or so. The lessons are very scripted, so even a novice teacher could meet with success.

Some questions you might ask are how often will she have intervention each week and for how long? Will it be individual sessions? We know that as students get older, the benefits from intervention do not happen as quickly as when started at a young age. Your daughter will need intensive intervention now that she is in the 6th grade. There are also aspects to reading and writing beyond the Sonday System -- such as strategies for reading comprehension, which your daughter will need; or learning different types of writing (e.g., persuasive, compare-contrast, descriptive essays). We also want to keep her vocabulary growing. I suspect she will need more than just the Sonday System (because most dyslexics do), but it is a good program to begin with and then build and supplement from there.