Orton-Gillingham is an approach to teaching individuals who
have difficulty in reading, writing and spelling that is associated with the
condition of dyslexia. It is better
characterized as an approach an not a method, system or technique. As such, it requires a well-trained
professional to be used properly. When
applied properly, it is a broad approach with both depth and flexibility.
The foundation of the Orton-Gillingham approach is based
upon a body of knowledge that has been tested and validated over the past 70
years. Orton-Gillingham has also incorporated
the scientific evidence about how people learn to read and write, why some
people have difficulties reading/writing and the best instructional practices
that help people with these difficulties learn to read and write.
The Orton-Gillingham approach is named after Samuel T. Orton
and Anna Gillingham. Samuel Orton was a
neuropsychiatrist and pathologist who focused attention on reading difficulties
and language processing problems. He
combined neuroscientific information with the principles of remediation and in
1925 identified the dyslexic condition as an educational problem. Anna Gillingham was a psychologist and
educator. She worked with Dr. Orton to
compile and publish the materials that eventually became known as the
The Orton-Gillingham Approach is often used in a one-on-one teacher-student
setting however; it is often used in small group settings. The Approach has been adopted for class-room
instruction with small classes of students.
The Approach has also been adapted for use with students who have
difficulty learning mathematics.
The Orton-Gillingham Approach focused on the specific
learning needs of the individual student.
Students with dyslexia need more help in sorting, recognizing and
organizing the elements of language used in reading, writing and spelling. While non-dyslexic learners quickly master
these elements of language, dyslexic students need to be taught the language
elements explicitly and systematically.