I live in Pennsylvania. I have a seven year old daughter in second grade who is very bright but struggles to read and write. She was diagnosed with Convergence Disorder, tried Vision Therapy to limited success. She has had private tutors and tutoring with her own teacher during first grade. Please let me know of the diagnosis of dyslexia, educational opportunities, and teaching strategies for this child so that I may help her reach her full potential.


Dr. Pierson's Response: 

I am in Ann Arbor, MI, so am not familiar with practitioners in PA. I would recommend contacting someone on this list from the International Dyslexia Association—PA branch.

One of the inherent qualities of dyslexics is that they are characteristically bright, but struggle when faced with written text. What your daughter needs is a good assessment of her skill set relative to the components of dyslexia, which is language-based. Those areas include phonological processing, oral language comprehension and use, reading comprehension and fluency, spelling, and writing. While some children with dyslexia may have vision problems, dyslexia is not a disorder of vision; it is one of language. You can read about the components of evaluation here.

A good assessment should inform therapy, as in, where to start. Tutors may or may not have an understanding of how to assess. Many tutors, and I have observed this, use a standard treatment program that is not individualized to the specific needs of each dyslexic person. A treatment approach based on your daughter's specific strengths and weaknesses is in order. Some help to get started is here. Additionally, I have a lot of information under the Professionals tab relative to treatment.

At my private clinical practice we do not ascribe to one approach. Instead, based on the client's unique individual needs, we develop a program specific to him or her, in which we may or may not use a pre-packaged program (such as Barton, Wilson, SPELL-Links, Lindamood, Wilson) or we may use a combination of these programs. We may develop activities for a high school student that targets morphology using the physics terms from the current physics unit at school. In turn, the client learns to look at the roots of words to determine meaning. Again, therapy is dependent on the individual strengths and weaknesses of the child, adolescent, or adult.

You are getting at this at the right time for your daughter—early in her school career. I hope this information points you in the right direction.