THERAPY VS TUTORING
Excerpt from Dyslexia HELP University of Michigan
Upon completion of this section, you will:
- Know varying organizations that certify professionals and accredited programs in remediating language-based learning disabilities
- Understand the differences between a speech-language therapist and a tutor in qualifications, roles, goals, and involvement in giving recommendations
Which will best help me?
With any investment of time and money, the outcome is the closest measure of success, and language intervention is no exception. Individuals with dyslexia will require practice and repetition to master newly learned skills. Essentially, more is better; but you do need to consider what works best for you given such things as attention span, daily activities, or constraints in your schedule.
Historically, speech-language and reading therapy sessions have been scheduled twice weekly for 30-60 minutes. We do know that scheduling more frequent sessions each week can have a positive effect on outcomes. Daily intervention is ideal. The length of the session should be long enough to get work done, but not so long as to fatigue the client. It follows that older individuals will be able to tolerate longer sessions.
If you have limited financial resources like so many of us, it is better to have the sessions scheduled more frequently over a short period than to spread the same number of sessions over a longer period. Having therapy on a more intensive schedule allows the client to experience success at a faster rate, which leads to positive beliefs about learning and enhances motivation.
Working with a professional with training in reading disability or an academic therapist is another a good place to start. Professionals can receive certification from a member of the International Multisensory Structured Language Education Council (IMSLEC), a non-profit that offers a rigorous accreditation program in MSLE, i.e., Orton-Gillingham-based approaches. The Academic Language Therapy Association also offers certification emphasizing reading, spelling, handwriting, and written expression. The Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practioners and Educators accredits programs and certifies individuals in the Orton-Gillingham approach. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is the credentialing organization of speech-language pathologists, a few of whom may have advanced training in reading disability. The Association of Educational Therapists (AET) is another organization where you can find qualified professionals who provide educational therapy.
If you are in or near Southeast Michigan and need an evaluation for a suspected language disorder or dyslexia, you can email Dr. Joanne Pierson, who has the rare skill set as a speech-language pathologist with an advanced degree in literacy, language, and learning disabilities, including dyslexia, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ve outlined some of the differences between speech-language therapy and tutoring. We want to note that some professionals who hold certification from IMSLEC, for example, may, for the ease of marketing and communication, refer to themselves as “tutors” rather than “therapists” The practices of these individuals fall in a similar category as speech-language therapy as described below. In the comparison below, we are using the word “tutoring” to refer to its more traditional use rather than to refer to those individuals with advanced training in intervention practices.
It’s in your best interest, as the consumer, to talk with the professional about his or her credentials. That said, you can use the information below, as well as information from the organizations listed above, to guide you as you find the professional who best meets your needs. Most importantly, as we’ve said elsewhere on DyslexiaHelp, you want someone who approaches remediation in a systematic, goal-directed, outcome-driven (i.e., goals are measurable) manner and can demonstrate improvement.
- An SLP holds certification from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and may need state licensure. ASHA requires SLPs to maintain professional credentials that include ongoing continuing education.
- SLPs are trained in selecting, implementing, adapting, and interpreting assessment tools and methods to evaluate skills in spoken language, both comprehension, and use.
- The occasional SLP, such as Dr. Pierson, may have received additional training in reading, spelling, and writing to specialize in literacy and dyslexia.
- An SLP will provide therapy with individual goals based on testing results. He or she will periodically assess the student’s progress toward those goals using standardized and informal testing measures.
- An SLP may have a background in a variety of literacy programs and be able to select from one program or parts of programs that may best work for each student.
- Qualified tutors will have one of the certifications listed above. As noted, these people may refer to themselves as “tutors” when in practice they act in similar ways to a therapist – developing goals and objectives and conducting the ongoing assessment to inform their intervention with your child. In these cases, many of the points under “Speech-language therapy” will apply to the work of these individuals.
- A tutor may also be a student who excels in a specific area of study, a teacher, or a person who is interested in helping people. They may or may not have any formal training and they are not required to have ongoing professional development training.
- Tutors typically are not trained to administer diagnostic assessments, and therefore rely on others to administer these tests.
- Tutors tend to have training in specific reading programs or approaches rather than a mulitude of approaches.
- An SLP who has additional training in literacy and learning disabilities can provide a complete assessment of the student’s language, phonological awareness, reading, spelling, and writing. All of these pieces are important to learning to read. Knowing where you or your child’s strengths and weaknesses are in each area is invaluable to planning the individual treatment program.Role
- Tutors with credentialing from the organizations listed above will be trained in the area of a specification, such as in the Orton-Gillingham method. In other cases, the tutor’s role is typical to help the student “catch up” when behind academically, rather than to remediate underlying, foundational skills.
- The purpose of tutoring is to speed up the learning process, make up the skills the child has lost, and get them back up to the instructional level so the teacher in the classroom can continue the learning process with the child.
- Tutoring attempts to help the student master the material at hand and becomes confident in their learning process.
- SLPs will collaborate with teachers and families to plan intervention goals and activities, as well as modifying curricula to keep students progressing in the general education setting.
- An SLP will write goals that are observable, measurable, and will delineate a time frame to achieve them.
- Tutors may or may not set goals for their students.
- Tutors can both reinforce subjects that are taught in school and teach students how to work independently. Students often become more self-confident after working with a tutor.
- An SLP will also provide recommendations for both school and home.
- An SLP will provide you with a written progress report containing information about results of treatment (i.e., progress towards goals and what was done to work towards them), recommendations for continued treatment (i.e., set new goals), and recommendations for school and home.
- An SLP may accompany you as a parent to an IEP meeting or you to a meeting with your supervisor or professor and assist in making recommendations and supporting you in the process.
- Tutors typically use assessments in a tutoring session and do not make recommendations for home and school.
- Given that tutors typically do not write goals, they usually do not measure progress or write up progress reports.
If you select a tutor for your child with dyslexia:
- It is essential that a student with dyslexia work with a tutor who is trained to use the appropriate multisensory techniques. Be sure to ask about training (such as credentialing from those organizations listed above), experience, and references.
- Schedule a minimum of two lessons a week. Students with learning disabilities need practice and repetition to master their lessons and it takes time to see improvement.
- Multisensory Structured Language (MSL) has been proven effective, as verified by National Institutes of Health (NIH) studies and recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. For real, age-appropriate independence in reading and writing skills, MSL Therapy 4-5 hours/week year round for 2-4 years. In Wisconsin, the previous are accredited professional training programs for MSL
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