What is a multisensory or Orton-Gillingham, Wilson, or Lindamood-Bell approach to reading/language instruction?

Samuel T. Orton and Anna Gillingham, both pioneers in the field of dyslexia, designed the first multisensory method used to teach individuals with dyslexia in the 1930’s. Their method is backed by years of neurological, psychological and educational research. They realized that Dyslexic students need a different approach to learning language and must be directly taught the basic elements of their language. They need specific instruction in the sounds and the letters that represent them and how to put these together and take them apart.

In multisensory teaching, instructors teach in a manner that necessitates students use visual, auditory, tactile, and kinesthetic modalities to learn, enabling them to rely on their strengths but more importantly, strengthening their weaknesses. In multisensory teaching, links are consistently made between what is seen (visual), heard (auditory), and what can be felt or experienced (tactile/kinesthetic). By tapping into all of the senses, or modalities, all of these programs enable the child with dyslexia to learn.

These methodologies all utilize phonetics and emphasize visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning styles. Instruction begins by focusing on the structure of language and gradually moves towards reading. The program provides students with immediate feedback and a predictable sequence that integrates reading, writing and spelling.

Research has shown us that children with Dyslexia need a synthetic approach that has to be multisensory, phonics-based, structured, sequential, systematic, and cumulative. These methods are language-based and success-oriented. The student is directly taught reading, handwriting and written expression as one logical body of knowledge. Learners move step by step from simple to more complex material in a sequential, logical manner that enables students to master important literacy skills. This comprehensive approach to reading instruction benefits all students.