Our son is in 3rd grade and on an IEP. He has been working with an Orton-Gillingham (OG) specialist for 6 months now. My hope was that the frustration level at home would subside, but it has gotten worse and it is exhausting and impacting our family. What should our expectations be as far as seeing results from OG?

Dr. Pierson's Response: 

It is difficult to pinpoint the kind of progress that you should be seeing, but, that said, after 6 months, you should be seeing some kind of progress. I'm assuming the services he is receiving are in school and not privately? Either way, the interventionist should be able to show you -- and, importantly him -- the progress that he is making.

The questions that come to my mind are:
1) Is the intervention getting at his underlying need? A good assessment should have identified that.
2) Is the intervention at the correct level? Many times, I find I have to go back to tackle some underlying concepts. For example, I have a 3rd grader with whom I'm presently working who has a pretty good skill set but is missing understanding of some early spelling rules. So, we are covering those, while also working on higher level skills.
3) What supports are in place to help him get the 3rd-grade content that he is unable to access due to his reading difficulties? Audiobooks are important for this.
4) What supports are in place to help him get his thoughts on paper due to challenges with writing? Speech-to-text and dictation software and apps, which he will need direct instruction on how to use, are key. Audiobooks and speech-to-text support should help minimize his frustration, give access to content, and help him demonstrate what he has learned relative to the curriculum.
5) Is a specific program being used? Is the intervention adjusted and designed for his specific needs? Is the intervention intensive?
6) Is someone providing you with guidance as to what to do at home to minimize everyone's frustration? There is a lot that can be done -- e.g., reading to him, having him read books at his instructional level (i.e., where he can decode 95-97% of the words), audiobooks, dictating work to a homework tutor, reduced homework assignments). Without knowing his profile of strengths and weaknesses, it is hard to know what he needs or what would specifically help.

So, my bottom line is -- you should be seeing progress and his team should be helping you figure out how to minimize his (and your) frustration. I find that 3rd grade can be really challenging for these kids. The curriculum between 2nd and 3rd grade has really ramped up.

Last, he is lucky to have you on top of this. These kids need advocates. You are asking the right questions.