My son has dyslexia and ADHD and he is in first grade. Our IEP outlines he will have intensive Wilson instruction for 225 minutes a week. Just recently, I discovered that they are in fact using the Edmark Reading Program. Just some basic research on the web, looks like this is more a memory/sight words based program. Please let me know if this program is appropriate for children with dyslexia.


Dr. Pierson's Response: 

I've done a bit of looking into the Edmark Program and I think your analysis of it is correct. I have not worked with it, but according to the information about it—the program targets the high frequency words from the Dolch list, which readers do need to learn, but it does not teach decoding from a phonological (sound) perspective, which undergirds learning to read and spell. Johns Hopkins School of Education rated it as a "limited evidence program." That said, it does have endorsement on its website from the highly regarded Florida Center from Reading Research stating that it is ".....systematic and explicit." Most children struggling to learn to read need both—to learn the phonological (sound) system of our language and map those sounds on to the letters (and letter combinations) of our alphabet AND to learn those words that do not follow the rules (sight words). It appears that these two programs attack issues of reading from two different avenues.

If the Wilson Program was recommended for your son, then I assume he needs an Orton-Gillingham, multi-sensory based approach to learning to decode; and it does not appear that is the approach that Edmark uses. If the school is wedded to the Edmark program, perhaps they can continue to use it for the sight word teaching and then add Wilson or a similar program that targets phonological processing from a multi-sensory perspective. We have a list of reading programs on DyslexiaHelp.