Students with dyslexia and similar learning disabilities are often highly creative and good at problem solving — because their processing disorders really represent a different way of thinking and learning. But when it comes to learning to read, that different way of thinking, unfortunately, means that these children will not be as successful with the standard methods of teaching letters and phonics.

Most of us intuitively know if we are more of a visual, auditory or kinesthetic (hands-on) learner. But for learning-disabled children, combining the three kinds of learning often yields the best results. They need to be taught to read and write in ways that tap into their own unique way of processing information, and the multi-sensory Orton-Gillingham method of learning phonics is tailor-made for students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities.

The Orton-Gillingham approach is named for physician Dr. Samuel T. Orton (1879-1948) and psychologist Anna Gillingham (1878-1963).

Based on their studies of learning difficulties in children, Orton developed the concept of multi-sensory instruction and Gillingham designed a system for teaching 44 phonemes (sounds) made by the letters of the English alphabet as well as morphemes (the smallest units in a language that have semantic meaning, such as prefixes and suffixes).

A 1935 book called Remedial Training for Students with Specific Disability in Reading, Spelling, and Penmanship, which is still in print and known as The Gillingham Manual, laid out the tenets of this approach — and today, the Orton-Gillingham method is still widely recognized as the most effective way to teach dyslexic students to read and write.

Because it is multi-sensory, the Orton-Gillingham approach relies not just on sight (recognizing letters and words) but also on auditory and even kinesthetic cues. So the sense of sight, sound and touch all come together to help the child learn new ways to recognize letters and their sounds, form and decode words, and have a more meaningful interaction with the text. This multisensory way of learning phonics has been used successfully to help learning-disabled kids catch up to their grade level in reading.

The Language Tune-Up Kit is a reading software program that uses the Orton-Gillingham method to help not only students with dyslexia learn to read, but also kids who have a wide variety of other learning disabilities or language learning difficulties (LLD), need a more hands-on (kinesthetic) program, or are just beginning to learn to read and want to do so in a fun and engaging way. The LTK is the only reading software that teaches 104 phonemes, and it reinforces previously learned skills through a variety of activities as the student progresses.

Each lesson ends with a fun, game-like assessment — so you always know how far the child has progressed in reading and other language skills.

The LTK has been used successfully in many settings: in the classroom, with a private tutor, or in a homeschool situation where a parent is a teacher. After students complete the 87 lessons in the LTK, they can decode and read 90% of all words in the English language — and recognize many others that have non-phonetic spellings.