What is Orton-Gillingham Approach?


Dr. Orton and his colleagues began using multisensory techniques in the mid-1920’s at the mobile mental health clinic he directed in Iowa. Dr. Orton was influenced by the kinesthetic method described by Grace Fernald and Helen Keller.

 

He suggested that kinesthetic-tactile reinforcement of visual and auditory associations could correct the tendency of confusing similar letters and transposing the sequence of letters while reading and writing. For example, students who confuse b and d are taught to use consistent, different strokes in forming each letter. Students make the vertical line before drawing the circle in printing the letter b; they form the circle before drawing the vertical line in printing the letter d. 

 

Anna Gillingham and Bessie Stillman based their original 1936 teaching manual for the “alphabetic method” on Dr. Orton’s theories. They combined multisensory techniques with teaching the structure of written English, including the sounds (phonemes), meaning units (morphemes such as prefixes, suffixes, and roots) and common spelling rules.

 

The phrase “Orton-Gillingham approach” refers to the structured, sequential, multisensory techniques established by Dr. Orton, Ms. Gillingham, and their colleagues. Many programs today incorporate methods and principles first described in this foundational work, as well as other practices supported by research.

 

Source: International Dyslexia Association

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