Multi-Sensory approaches teach reading and writing (including spelling) through using Auditory (hearing), Visual (sight) and Kinesthetic (movement/touch) pathways. This gives multiple pathways for the information to reach the brain. It is diagnostic as it involves constant testing and reflection on the knowledge of the student. It is systematic and seeks to unite the components of written language. Thus it treats sound-symbol knowledge, oral language (grammar and pronunciation), written language conventions and handwriting in an organised and integrated fashion.

Teaching and learning in this way is an exciting journey of discovery. It is a fast paced and creative process where learning is fun since each small step is mastered and the learner is aware of what they have gained. Everyone now can call themself a success. Confidence is built through growing mastery of written language. The students can see themselves as successful learners and this helps each individual learner gain independence and a great “can do” attitude.

Antonia Canaris observes that so many parents, teachers and students ask: “Why wasn’t I told about this before?” Spreading this amazing no-frills knowledge is part of our mission.

The Dyslexia Advocacy Resources and Education Charity Trust aims to have a network throughout NSW with links to other states that will be able to recommend trained Multi-Sensory therapists. Please advise us of any you might know of in your area.Multi-Sensory Approaches to Teaching


Samuel Orton and Anna Gillingham pioneered this approach in the 1930’s. Students gain an appreciation of the nature of language and writing as well as the history of English.

Its diagnostic nature makes it best suited to individual one-on-one situations. Sometimes two or three students with similar strengths and weaknesses may be grouped together.

Margaret Byrd Rawson, a former President of the International
Dyslexia Association (IDA),wrote:

“Dyslexic students need a different approach to learning language from that employed in most classrooms. They need to be taught, slowly and thoroughly, the basic elements of their language—the sounds and the letters which represent them—and how to put these together and take them apart. They have to have lots of practice in having their writing hands, eyes, ears, and voices working together for conscious organization and retention of their learning.”
(Quoted in International Dyslexia Association Fact Sheet on Multi-Sensory Structured Language Teaching)

The following is a summary from the findings and recommendations of the World Dyslexia Forum, 3 – 5 February 2010, at UNESCO, Paris.

    • Better teacher-training in the best way of teaching reading and writing is essential.
    • Teachers will be better equipped when they command the most efficient way of teaching reading and writing; the same knowledge will also allow them to tackle the needs of children and adults with dyslexia as well as other learning difficulties.
    • The best methods will include structured, explicit and systematic teaching through multisensory tools.
    • Recent scientific research has shown beyond dispute that people with dyslexia display different patterns of neurological development – leading both to weaknesses of processing in certain areas but also, in many cases, to the expression of unusual, creative skills.
    • Dyslexia is a life-long condition and, when not addressed adequately, leads to severe problems in the pursuit of secondary and higher education; the isolation and emotional traumas of people with dyslexia should be recognized; and these disorders often lead to antisocial behaviour, drop- out, and delinquency for which society pays a heavy price in the long-term

KIDS Learning Centre
shows you can have fun without a school hall! (Chennai India-school for children with dyslexia and other learning difficulties.

    There are quite a few facilities to help Indian children with dyslexia. Here are some photos from a centre in Chennai. There seems to be lots of dancing and fun. They have a multi-sensory program which draws on the expertise of occupational therapists, psychologists and speech therapists. What could we do in Australia? The gym equipment does not have to be flash!
    The centre also runs a certificate course in Dyslexia for teachers, other professionals etc. and offers advice for schools and support for students who are going back to mainstream.

For more information on how to become a Multi-Sensory practitioner, contact The Australian Dyslexia Association (ADA). The ADA offers full training programmes at various levels. The programmes are suitable for parents, teachers’ aides, teachers and other professionals.

Australian Dyslexia Association

Arlene Sonday on Effective Reading Instruction

19/12/2011: Dyslexia Legislation Passed in Ohio

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