John is struggling with reading and spelling. He has difficulties sounding-out (decoding) words when he reads, keeping letters in the right order when he writes, and pronouncing words accurately when he speaks. As a result, he has been labeled "dyslexic," and told that he has a learning disorder. Despite seeing numerous reading tutors and speech therapists, plus trying a few reading and phonics programs specifically designed to help children with learning disabilities, John continues to experience the frustrations of a struggling reader.
John's reading and spelling difficulties are very common. Many struggling readers experience problems with recognizing and distinguishing the order and identity of sounds in words. These kinds of reading and spelling difficulties are not disabilities – they are symptoms. And, the root cause of these symptoms is usually a weakness in phonemic awareness.
Phonemic awareness is the ability to identify, distinguish, and manipulate individual sounds within words. Many children and adults who are thought to have reading or learning disabilities are able to recognize individual letters and whole words. However, like John, these individuals struggle with difficulties sequencing sounds within words, and recognizing whether the sounds they speak and the letters they write match the words they are trying to read and spell.
A weakness in phonemic awareness can often result in difficulties with decoding, spelling, and pronunciation. These phonemic difficulties often manifest through the following symptoms:
- Difficulty with reading accuracy (often resulting in omitting, substituting, or reversing sounds and letters within words – e.g., "steam" for "stream," "claps" for "clasp")
- Difficulty with spelling accuracy (often resulting in errors similar to those made while reading – e.g., "gril" for "girl," "equitment" for "equipment")
- Difficulty with pronunciation (often resulting in errors similar to those made while reading or spelling – e.g., "death" for "deaf," "lie-berry" for "library")
- Difficulty with detecting and correcting reading, spelling, and speech errors
- Symptoms of Dyslexia
The Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing® (LiPS®) program helps children and adults develop the sensory-cognitive function of phonemic awareness. Unlike most reading, spelling, and phonics programs, LiPS instruction directly applies phonemic awareness to the identification and sequencing of sounds in words. Students in the LiPS program move through a series of steps to learn how their mouths produce the sounds of language. This kinesthetic feedback enables them to verify the identity and sequence of sounds within words, and to become self-correcting in reading, spelling, and speech.
It is common for children and adults to gain years in decoding, spelling, and pronunciation in just weeks of intensive instruction. Developing phonemic awareness is necessary to becoming an independent reader, which is necessary to becoming a proficient learner in any subject. And, the process-based instruction provided by the LiPS program has proven successful for individuals exhibiting symptoms of dyslexia, ADHD, ASD, CAPD, and other learning difficulties.