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How do I Choose the Best Dyslexia Center?

By Deborah Walker
Updated May 17, 2024
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Selecting the best dyslexia center can be a very difficult task, but there are many things you can do to make the decision easier. You will need to look at the center's location and the facilities themselves, the qualifications of the staff members, the curriculum and the instructional program. Take into account the personality of the person with dyslexia, as well as your own gut feeling before you make a final decision. If possible, take a disability advocate with you when you tour each facility. The advocate's input can be invaluable.

The location of a school should be within easy driving distance from your home, if at all possible. Find out what kind of transportation arrangements the center offers, such as whether busing is offered or you will need to provide transportation. Also, find out whether the center is in a safe area.

The facilities of the dyslexia center should be modern and clean. The building should be well maintained and large enough to accommodate the speech, occupational and physical therapy sessions that many people with dyslexia require. Students should have a place to store their belongings while they are at the center.

It is absolutely essential that the teachers are certified in special education and have advanced training, additional certification or experience working with students who have specific learning disabilities. Arrange a time that you can visit a classroom during school hours. Talk to teachers face-to-face. Watch the interactions between staff members and students. Teachers should be approachable, firm and encouraging and should keep the tenor of the classroom conducive to learning.

Every student must have his or her own individualized program of study that is based on the student's specific needs. Instruction should be carried out with an eye toword incorporating various learning styles, whether they are visual, auditory, kinesthetic or a combination thereof. A good program will be data-driven, using data from pre- and post-instruction tests to monitor learning and make instructional decisions.

Instruction should be done in small chunks, so that students attending the dyslexia center have the best chance at learning. Hands-on learning is a must for students with dyslexia and other specific learning disabilities. Students should be able to take breaks as needed. Physical activity has been shown to improve in-class learning and should be incorporated into the program throughout the day.

Ask about the center's approach to behavior and discipline. It is common for students with learning disabilities to be disorganized, fidgety and sometimes disruptive. Most dyslexia centers will have some kind of reward or incentive system to help students learn self-control, responsibility and consequences. It is important that the center teaches students these skills as well as study skills and other life skills, fostering a can-do attitude and helping students develop confidence in their abilities to succeed.

If the dyslexia center is a full-day program, it is important to find out what enrichment activities, if any, the center provides. Ask whether there is an after-school program or help with homework. Find out whether there are opportunities for students to be involved with music, the arts or sports. The best dyslexia center should be a comfortable and inviting place that makes real learning possible.

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