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Our seven-year-old was just tested by a pediatrician who diagnosed ADHD and perhaps dyslexia. Our son was prescribed Ritalin and he's doing well with the medication. He attends a private school and he becomes very frustrated with reading homework. He's scheduled for psychological, educational, and physical testing.

I'm reading Sandra Rief's book, The ADD/ADHD Checklist. Are we headed in the right direction? Are there other resources that you can direct us to? We're considering putting our son in public school for Reading Recovery and special education.

You're very wise to educate yourself as much as possible about getting appropriate help for your son. I'm especially glad that you are addressing your son's early reading needs. The latest statistics show that if children are given appropriate reading supports early, 90 percent of them can achieve at least an average level of reading performance. A comprehensive evaluation is certainly the best place to begin.

It's difficult to recommend the type of setting that would be most appropriate for your son because the quality of instruction provided is the critical factor. For example, Reading Recovery is an excellent one-to-one tutorial program with highly trained teachers for beginning readers. It is not, however, a program designed for dyslexics.

In general the best teaching approach for young dyslexic children combines direct, intensive instruction with phonemic awareness activities (learning how sounds work in words) with systematic direct instruction in decoding skills, typically an Orton-Gillingham approach to learning how to read. You can find out more about this from the International Dyslexia Association at or 1-800-ABCD123.

Other useful resources are:

  • The Coordinated Campaign for Learning Disabilities ( or 1-888-GR8-MIND)
  • The Schwab Foundation for Learning (
  • Susan L. Hall and Louisa C. Moats' book, Straight Talk About Reading: How Parents Can Make a Difference During the Early Years
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