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  • Writer's pictureEmily Wagner, MS

Multisensory Instruction for Dyslexia: How the Orton-Gillingham Approach Can Help


If you have a child with dyslexia, you likely know that traditional approaches to learning and reading aren’t as effective. This is because children with dyslexia and other learning disabilities can’t process written language as well as others. Their brains simply aren’t wired to understand information the way most schools teach reading.1 


Through almost 100 years of research, the Orton-Gillingham method has proven to be an effective way to teach children with dyslexia.2 Keep reading to learn more about why this approach is best and how Bridging the Gaps Dyslexia Center can help your child. 


What Is the Orton-Gillingham Approach?

In 1935, Dr. Samuel Orton and Anna Gillingham came together to create a way to teach children with dyslexia. Back in the day, dyslexia was referred to as “word-blindness.” Dr. Orton was a neuropsychiatrist, and Gillingham was an educator and psychologist.2 


The Orton-Gillingham approach focuses on teaching children reading at the word level. It emphasizes “multisensory instruction” — meaning children use many of their senses at the same time.3 Teachers using the Orton-Gillingam approach encourage their students to learn language using their:


  • Ears, by listening 

  • Eyes, by seeing

  • Mouth, by speaking,

  • Hand, by writing through touch 


For example, a child may sound out the letter “D” while also seeing it and spelling out out in shaving cream on their desk. Using many of the senses together builds new pathways in the brain for children to remember the rules of phonics, reading, and writing.4 




Benefits of the Orton-Gillingham Approach 

Many teachers use some of the key parts of the Orton-Gillingham approach in their classrooms when teaching reading and writing. However, children with dyslexia often need 1-on-1 coaching sessions with instructors. The instructor can assess your child’s strengths and weaknesses the develop the best strategy for their unique needs.4 


The Orton-Gillingham approach also emphasizes teaching children rules and skills one step at a time in a particular order. Once the child understands the rule and has a strong foundation, they can move onto the next. Individual coaching sessions ensure your child isn’t left behind, like they may be in a classroom setting.4 


Eventually, children taught with the Orton-Gillingham approach will be confident in their skills. They’ll be able to use the rules they learned to decode words and language all on their own.4 




The Orton-Gillingham Approach at Bridging the Gaps Dyslexia Center 


At Bridging the Gaps Dyslexia Center, our instructors use the Orton-Gillingham approach with the Barton and Reading Spelling System to help children with dyslexia build strong reading and writing skills. Backed by nearly 100 years of research, this approach has helped countless children who have fallen behind in classrooms around the country.  


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