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Helping children learn

Some Catholic schools offer programs for dyslexic kids

Published: January 28, 2015   

Several other Catholic schools around the state have implemented programs to help children with dyslexia. Patty James, a resource teacher and curriculum coordinator at St. Edward School in Little Rock, has worked with students since 2000 that have varying degrees of learning disabilities. 

“They say one in five children has dyslexia. That means 20 percent of kids in our schools have dyslexia,” James said. “They think children aren’t trying hard enough, they think these children aren’t smart. These kids have average to above average intelligence. It’s frustrating for the parents and child.”

James said recent studies have focused on determining the cause.

“Researchers had kids trying to read while doing an MRI. With a child that doesn’t have dyslexia, the left side of your brain does the reading. When a child with dyslexia is trying to read, that part of their brain is not lighting up, the other side of the brain is trying to read.”

“These kids have average to above average intelligence. It’s frustrating for the parents and child.” Patty James, resource teacher and curriculum coordinator at St. Edward School in Little Rock

James said the program is currently using the Orton-Gillingham method for students with dyslexia.

“It’s very sequential, very structured. You teach the skill and practice it the same 11 ways and they have to master it that way to go on. You do a lot of things with sound before you put the letters with it,” James said. “It’s very multi-sensory. A child listens and then they vocalize it back. They’re writing things, moving letter blocks around.”

In addition to CHS and St. Edward, five other Catholic schools reported they are providing specific support to dyslexic students.

  • St. Mary School, Paragould: Kindergarten teacher Denise Stoddard has completed a two-year training to become a dyslexia therapist with the Apple Group. She is currently working with three elementary students. She meets two times a week for 45-to-60-minute sessions. 
  • Christ the King School, Little Rock: Learning assistance director Beth Brewer, who is trained as a speech therapist, said, “Many of our students here have private tutors who are trained in dyslexia therapy. These tutors come to our school as well as seeing students after school for therapy. I have also been trained in Orton-Gillingham, so I help some students in groups. ... I think we have 12 or so students that have an official dyslexia diagnosis.”
  • Subiaco Academy, Subiaco: Academic Dean Cheryl Goetz said Subiaco Academy currently has four students with diagnosed dyslexia. In the classroom, students are offered basic accommodations, such as proximity/preferential seating. Students can use audio textbooks in addition to written texts. Novels are available on MP3 players. Students may use graphic organizers or altered font size/color to enhance reading ability.
  • Immaculate Conception School, Fort Smith: Susan Schulte, a certified teacher working with learning disabilities in the school’s learning lab, said, “I typically work with small groups of students for an hour daily, but if needed students may receive one-on-one instruction. I use two research-based reading programs for students with dyslexia: The Barton Program and the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital program. “We always use a multi-sensory approach to learning to read and spell,” she said.
  • Immaculate Conception School, North Little Rock: Teacher Carol Hardin recently began training in the DuBard Association Method through the University of Southern Mississippi. “The DuBard Association Method is a phonetic, multisensory teaching-learning strategy that is Orton-Gillingham based in content and principles of instruction. ... Completing the DuBard Association Method Basic Course allows me to complete an advanced practicum in order to become a certified academic language practitioner (CALP).”

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