The Wrightslaw Way

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Teaching Every Child to Read: Never Give Up!

by Debbie Larson

“Never give up” is an essential motto for parents of children who have difficulty learning to read.

I know. My son was seriously behind in reading skills throughout his early grade school years.

Typical in most schools by the end of third grade, I knew his school district would stop providing individual reading instruction. I could not let that happen! Kevin was making “good progress,” but he was falling further and further behind his age mates in reading skill.

I used the Wrightslaw technique of graphing scores to demonstrate this gap. Pete is right when he says it’s a skill all parents should master

The evaluation results gave me the data. Graphing the data helped me convince the CSE team that research based reading instruction (RBI) needed to be included in Kevin’s IEP.  That instruction continued for the next several years.

Yes, it took several years.  However, I never gave up. Kevin did learn to read fluently!  Kevin just finished his first semester as a full time college student with a 2.8 GPA.

Reading – A Basic Skill

Reading is such a basic skill.  Having others read to you cannot substitute for this skill. Using assistive technology to read for you cannot substitute.

If we teach a child everything BUT reading through all the years of public school, when he leaves school, his chances are limited. However, if we teach him nothing BUT reading, when he leaves, the whole world is open to him.

The understanding of how a child learns to read has expanded enormously over the past ten years. We now can teach virtually every child to read.  Never give up!

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16 Comments on "Teaching Every Child to Read: Never Give Up!"


Many parents are hard pressed to find proprly trained teachers in Wilson. Wilson is a great program. I have called their helpline to help the special education supervisor understand how the program was not being impellemnted with fidelity in the district. He listened and sent teachers for training. But, Wislon is a packaged program to school systems. They offer training opportunities to school districts but they sell the program regardles if the school system uses the training opportunities or note. Wilson was a great program early on for my child. For some older kids, Wilson may be very laborious for both student and teacher. We dropped Wilson this year and she is making better progress with anotherb SBRI program. Age and grade were determining factors and a need for something different for an older student


Parents of children with print disabilities will also want to learn more about Bookshare, an online accessible book library.

It’s free for U.S. students who qualify and they can download two reading technologies.

K-12 and post-secondary educators and school administrators should know about this quality book repository.

It’s partially funded by OSEP – Office of Special Education and our tax dollars. Recommend getting individual membership as well as asking school principal to get an organizational membership for textbook access. Do it!


These are the things that helped me as I have reflected over the last year or so with working with the school district, etc. These are only my reflections and are not meant to dismiss anyone’s experiences. My son is dyslexic, athletic, etc. and in 7th grade:

1. I stopped placing blame on school district, etc. and became action focused and data driven concerning his needs. At the end of the day, I know that teachers did their best with the resources that they had.
2. My goal, despite any “knots”, was to collaborate with the school district–even with an advocate. I never did let it become adverserial.
3. Being realistic–older struggling readers may not want all the extra help. Some do not like the “pull-out” and may prefer help outside of school. This is something to note as we can forget their needs.
7. AT is the key

Sharon L.

GB – Try Alphabetic Phonics. My son was at pre primer reading level and fluency in 8th grade. The school ended up paying for a tutor that was certified and taught Alphabetic Phonics and Wilson reading because we proved that the school was not providing FAPE. He was able to learn to read and is more fluent to a 10th grade level. He is now in college and he belongs to Learning Ally that has books you can download from the internet. We got him qualified for this because he is a diagnosed dyslexic and our physician filled Learning Ally’s paperwork. He downloads the college books and has read/write gold read them on his computer while he reads the book at the same time. This helps him as well as actually being able to read fluently.


I just saw all these comments and I had to add one of my own. I am working part time for a company who focuses on reading instruction using research based Orton-Gillingham methods done online. Some of you may be interested in learning more about Lexercise. It can be hard for families to find OG trained instructors and the traditional method does not always offer the intensity needed for more efficient progress. Check out the website if you are interested.
I agree you should never give up when it comes to such an important life skill and joy. Using technology in diifferent ways, learning about what technologies can help are all important…..I hope this post is helpful.