A girl races in the I Can Du It! Adaptive Duathlon using her wheelchair. The weather is rainy, but everyone has a smile on their face.

BDI’s Inaugural I Can Du It! Adaptive Duathlon

Sunday, September 17th was a big day for BDI Playhouse, who hosted their inaugural I Can Du It! Adaptive Duathlon. This race was the first ever adaptive sporting event hosted by BDI Playhouse and one of the only of its kind in the area. Adaptive sports are modified or adapted activities or sports that allow people with a disability or physical limitation to participate with increased independence, enjoyment, and self-confidence. 

The racers had been preparing for this day for a very long time and the day was finally here! The countless hours working on biking skills and building endurance was about to pay off. On this day, 22 racers, both children who have disabilities and their siblings, braved the rain and gathered at BDI Playhouse in Orland Park to race laps around the parking lot with a modified run-bike-run format in order to include kids of all abilities. Racers used assistive devices, adapted bikes, wheelchairs, specialized wheelchairs, bikes with training wheels, and two-wheel bikes to complete the 1-1.5 mile race course. Each racer had a buddy to race with, their choice of either a family member or therapist, to ensure safety and encourage the racers along the course. 

Despite the rain clouds above, you could feel the excitement in the air. Race t-shirts were worn, cheering was heard, and medals were awarded to all of our hard-working athletes. It was hard to tell if the smiles on the parents’ or the racers’ faces were bigger! One mother said that her daughter who raced “was on cloud nine from start to finish”. Meanwhile, her daughter excitedly shared that her “favorite part of the race was biking through all the puddles!” One of BDI Playhouse’s therapists exclaimed that today was “the best morning at BDI” that she’s ever had. 

To our greatest excitement and despite the rainy weather, the race went off without a hitch! Families, racers, volunteers, and therapists shared in the excitement following the race, excitedly discussing plans for the race next year. For the first year, registration was kept to invitation only as a first year test-run, so to speak. We look forward to growing the race next year with a goal of opening the race to more community members to further promote inclusion and access to adaptive sports of all varieties for kids of all abilities.

No amount of photos or words can accurately and fully describe the pride, excitement, and pure joy the day encapsulated. This day will truly live on in the memories of our clients and racers, families, and therapists minds forever. So until the planning process begins for next year’s Adaptive Duathlon, which will be here sooner than we know, please join us in reliving the day with these heartwarming and inspiring photos.

Keep scrolling to check out the photo highlights from the race!

Cassidy Bannon, PT, DPT

Prepare for Back-to-School with Occupational Therapy

Top 5 Tips to Prepare for Back-to-School from an Occupational Therapist

Top 5 Tips to Prepare for Back-to-School from an Occupational Therapist

As the summer draws to a close, it’s time to start thinking about heading back to school. For students, this transition can bring a mix of excitement and anxiety. Setting students up for success by helping them prepare for the challenges that lie ahead can make the transition go smoothly. Some things to start working on ahead of time are establishing routines, organizing workspaces and supplies, fine motor skills, social skills, and sensory supports. All of this preparation can feel overwhelming, but the occupational therapy team at BDI Playhouse can help you in any of these areas that you find to be tricky for your child. You can schedule a free screening with an occupational therapist just to brainstorm some tips that can help you prepare for back-to-school or to discuss how occupational therapy services might benefit your family.  

1. Establish a Routine: One of the most important aspects when you prepare for back-to-school is establishing a consistent routine. Over the summer break, sleeping schedules often become more relaxed, and days tend to be less structured. However, returning to school requires a regular sleep pattern and structured daily routines. Gradually adjust bedtimes and wake-up times to align with the school schedule, allowing the body to adapt to the changes. Establishing routines for meals, homework, and extracurricular activities will also help create a sense of predictability and reduce stress. Occupational therapists can help you develop these routines and can also provide help to make it easier for your child to follow their routine without assistance with tasks or a million pesky reminders from caregivers.

2. Organize and Prepare: Getting organized is crucial for a successful school year. Help your child set up an organized workspace, whether it’s a dedicated desk or a specific area for homework. Ensure necessary school supplies, textbooks, and materials are readily accessible. Organize backpacks or bags by creating designated compartments for different items. Teach your child how to use a planner or calendar to keep track of assignments, due dates, and extracurricular activities. By promoting organization skills, you can reduce anxiety and increase productivity. Occupational therapists can help identify the best way in which to organize materials to promote independence, modify supplies to best fit your child’s needs, and provide tools to help your child keep themselves on track. 

3. Fine-Tune Motor Skills: Fine motor skills play a significant role in various school activities, such as writing, using scissors, and manipulating small objects. They are also important for your child to be able to open their backpack, snack and lunch containers, and to complete other self care tasks during the school day without help from their teacher. Engage your child in activities that enhance fine motor skills, such as coloring, drawing, puzzles, and arts and crafts projects. Encourage hand strengthening exercises through play, such as squeezing stress balls or using play-doh or putty. These activities help improve dexterity, handwriting, and overall coordination, leading to better academic performance. During therapy sessions, occupational therapists help children to develop these skills through carefully selected and graded activities that provide a just-right-challenge for improving fine motor skills. An OT can also help you to identify some ways that you can modify activities in ways that either promote increased fine motor skills or that make a difficult task more accessible for your child. 

4. Foster Social Skills: Going back to school means interacting with peers, teachers, and other staff members. Social skills are crucial for building relationships and creating a positive school experience. Encourage your child to participate in social activities during the summer to help them practice communication, turn-taking, and problem-solving skills. Arrange playdates, join summer camps, or engage in team sports. Additionally, discuss and role-play social scenarios, teaching your child appropriate responses and behaviors. By fostering social skills, you can boost your child’s confidence and help them form meaningful connections at school. Occupational therapists commonly work with children to address these struggles and have so many great ideas for some strategies that you can try at home. 

5. Manage Sensory Needs: For children with sensory processing challenges, the school environment can be overwhelming. Take time to assess and manage your child’s sensory needs before the school year begins. Consult with an occupational therapist who can provide strategies and interventions to address specific sensory issues. Create a sensory toolkit containing items such as noise-canceling headphones, fidget tools, and stress balls, which can help your child self-regulate and stay focused in the classroom. Collaborate with teachers to create a sensory-friendly learning environment that accommodates your child’s needs. Interpreting your child’s sensory needs and identifying the best ways to support them can be tricky, occupational therapists can work with you to help meet your child’s sensory needs, create activities and routines to regulate their sensory systems, and discuss ways in which you can advocate for your child as they return to the school environment. 

Preparing for back to school involves more than just buying school supplies and new clothes. Focusing on establishing routines, organizing and promoting independence, fine-tuning motor skills, fostering social skills, and supporting sensory needs will help your child be their very best as they go back to school this Fall. By implementing these five tips, you can set your child up for success, ease the transition, and create a positive and productive school experience. The back-to-school period is an opportunity for growth, learning, and building resilience, and with the right preparation, your child can thrive academically, socially, and emotionally! Our team is ready to help you during any step of the way. You can schedule a free screening to discuss any road bumps you may have and we will be happy to talk about some specific strategies to try at home as you prepare for back-to-school!  

Written by: Kourtney Schultz, MOT, OTR/L

6 Benefits of Physical Therapy for Pediatric Cancer

Physical therapy has been shown to improve strength, range of motion, sleep, energy, and mood while reducing pain, anxiety, and symptoms of treatment-related side effects, such as neuropathy in children with pediatric cancer. Occupational and speech therapy can also be extremely beneficial for cancer rehabilitation depending on the diagnosis and side effects. 

Physical therapists are in your corner to join the fight!

  1. Maintaining or improving physical function: Cancer and its treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery, can often lead to physical side effects and complications. Physical therapy helps children maintain or regain their physical function, strength, flexibility, and mobility. It focuses on improving overall physical abilities and reducing the impact of cancer-related limitations.
  2. Managing pain and discomfort: Cancer treatment can cause pain and discomfort in children. Physical therapy techniques, such as therapeutic exercises, manual therapy, and modalities like heat or cold therapy, can help alleviate pain, reduce muscle stiffness, and improve joint mobility. Physical therapists can also provide guidance on proper body mechanics and techniques to minimize pain during daily activities.
  3. Preventing or reducing treatment-related complications: Some cancer treatments may have adverse effects on the musculoskeletal system, such as decreased bone density, muscle weakness, and joint contractures. Physical therapy interventions can address these issues and help prevent complications. For example, therapists can provide exercises to strengthen bones, maintain muscle mass, and prevent contractures, reducing the risk of long-term functional limitations.
  4. Enhancing the overall quality of life: Cancer and its treatments can significantly impact a child’s quality of life. Physical therapy not only focuses on physical aspects but also considers the emotional and social well-being of the child. By helping children maintain or improve physical function, physical therapy allows them to participate in activities they enjoy, interact with peers, and maintain a sense of normalcy.
  5. Supporting psychological well-being: Cancer can be emotionally challenging for children and their families. Physical therapy can provide a supportive and encouraging environment, promoting a positive mindset and emotional well-being. Through therapeutic activities, physical therapists can help reduce anxiety, improve self-esteem, and enhance a child’s overall psychological resilience.
  6. Facilitating a smoother transition to regular activities: After cancer treatment, children often face challenges when reintegrating into regular activities, such as school, sports, and play. Physical therapy can help bridge this transition by gradually increasing activity levels, providing adaptive strategies if needed, and monitoring progress. The therapist works closely with the child, family, and other healthcare providers to ensure a safe and successful return to normal activities.

It’s important to note that the specific goals and interventions of physical therapy may vary depending on the individual needs and circumstances of each child. Any level of exercise during and after cancer treatment can reduce side effects, help your body recover, and fight depression. Research from the American Society of Clinical Oncology has shown that physical activity can also lower the risk of cancer returning.

If you feel your child could benefit from PT, OT, or speech treatment, BDI Playhouse can help! Get started here! 

Written By: Dana Bukala, PTA

OT Outside Play

Let’s Play Outside – OT Approved Summer Activities

Let’s Play Outside!

Playing outside provides so many benefits to our little ones, it helps expand their sensory system, promote relaxation strategies, provides physical exercise, facilitates motor skill development, and it allows your child to be creative! Here are some outside OT play activities for this summer season. 


1. Chalk

Chalk is a fun way to be creative when outside but also allows you to work on your gross and fine motor skills as well! Your child can draw shapes or create sensory paths, or even draw a simple hopscotch design. 

TIP: You can also smash the chalk and add water to make a thick paint and have your child paint the driveway using a brush! 


2. Sensory Tables

Fill a bucket with water and sand, use shovels to scoop, build sand castles, or search for hidden underwater creatures or seashells in the sand! This sensory activity is perfect for developing hand strength, fine motor skills, tolerating various textures, and language development. 

TIP: Sensory tables are so easy to change out, depending on your child’s age. Water with cut up fruit slices is an easy way to explore various textures and smells too!


3. Jump Rope

Jump rope is a great way for your child to work on gross motor and motor planning skills. You can play multiple ways: use a single rope to start or use two ropes to complete double dutch if you want a challenge. 

TIP: You can use the jump rope to play a game of snake to facilitate jumping skills and visual motor skills too. 


4. Water Balloons

Fill up water balloons and play catch, throw at a target, or use rackets or baseball bats to hit them with! There are so many ways to facilitate eye hand coordination skills, frustration tolerance, and bilateral coordination skills using this simple activity. 

TIP: You can also dip your water balloons into paint and throw them or pop them on a canvas to paint. 


5. Bubbles

Blowing bubbles is a great way to work on oral motor skills but also provides your child with a way to regulate themselves as well through deep breathing. 

TIP: Have a popping contest and see who can utilize their index finger to pop all of the bubbles first or the fastest to facilitate visual motor skills or fine motor coordination skills. 

Give these outside OT play activities a try this summer! If you would like to learn more about occupational therapy, visit our OT webpage here  and if your child has difficulty engaging in any of the activities previously listed check out our milestones webpage  or free screening

Written By: Kiersten Robertson, MOT, OTR/L

Tummy Time

COVID Babies – Impacts of Quarantine on Development

The Global Pandemic of 2020 has left its mark on our lives in a variety of ways. It has changed the way we shop, the way we work, and even the way we learn. The lives of our kiddos have also been changed, especially for our “COVID Babies.” Babies born just before, during, or shortly after the global pandemic do not know anything different than the lives we live now. 

So how has this new “normal” affected the way they learn and grow? Has it even affected them at all? Here’s what the latest research shows: “COVID Babies” were less likely to “wave” to greet others, point/use gestures, and say their first words prior to their first birthdays. 

So, how can we support these “COVID Babies” and make sure they are on the right track? Meaningful play and reading together can be great ways to work on development. Exposing your child to as many different experiences as possible can create new environments for them to learn. It doesn’t have to be big and expensive. Something as simple as packing a snack and heading to the park can create new and unique learning opportunities for your little one. Click HERE  for a list of more ideas. 

If you have concerns about your kiddos development, click HERE for a link to our milestones page resources or schedule a free screening with one of our skilled therapists at BDI Playhouse. It’s never too early to make sure your little one has the skills needed to grow!


Byrne, S., Sledge, H., Franklin, R., Boland, F., Murray, D. M., & Hourihane, J. (2022). Social communication skill attainment in babies born during the COVID-19 pandemic: A birth cohort study. Archives of Disease in Childhood. https://doi.org/10.1136/archdischild-2021-323441 

Emily Francis, M.S. CCC-SLP


AAC Winter Activities

Do you know what AAC is? It’s all the way someone communicates besides talking. AAC stands for Augmentative and Alternative Communication. Augmentative means to add to someone’s speech. Alternative means to be used instead of verbal speech. AAC is used when individuals have trouble with speech and language skills. AAC can look like an iPad/tablet with an app and a voice or a picture board. Here at BDI, we have many AAC users! 

It’s so important to model on your child’s AAC device. This is the best way for them to learn about their device. Modeling requires a communication partner with SLP’s typically begin by modeling core words. Core words refers to words that are in an individual’s vocabulary that make up most of an individual’s daily communication. Core words help AAC users to express their basic wants and needs. Examples include: help, stop, more, want, in, on, up, open

The best way to model is to use the device while you’re talking. For example, you can model “help me” by pressing “HELP” on device (or pointing to HELP on a low tech device) at the same time you say “help me”. 

With winter here, here are a few activities that you can do with your child with some tips on how to incorporate AAC! 

Snowman craft 

Snowman AAC

Supplies: Paper plate, construction paper (black, orange, brown, red, child’s favorite color), scissors, glue, pen/pencil


Phrases to Incorporate

MORE“More glue”, “more paper”
WANT“Want glue”, “want paper”, “want black”, “want scissors”
HELP“Help me”, “help open”, “help cut”, “help glue”
ON“Put on”, “on top”, “on head”
OPEN“Open glue”

Sensory bin 

Sensory AAC

Supplies: Bucket, snow (real or fake!), shovel or scooper, bowls, cookie cutters, mini objects (i.e., snowflakes, christmas tree stickers, penguins, candycanes)


Phrases to Incorporate

MORE“More snow”, “More snowflakes”, “More scoop”
HELP“Help scoop”
ON“On top”, “Snow on”
IN“Put in”, “Go in”
GO“Ready, set, go”, “You go”, “I go”, “Go snow”
UP“Pick up”, “go up”

We hope you enjoyed these activities with your child!  We’d love to hear how it went.


Written by: Shannon Okland, M.S. CCC-SLP

Back to School

Back to School Transition Strategies

Back to School Emotions

August means back to school is right around the corner!  Back to school means transitioning to new schools, new teachers, new peers, new expectations and new routines! Many kids are excited about the anticipation of a new school year, but for many kiddos “new” can be scary and worrisome. 

Children can communicate their emotions through a variety of behaviors. It’s important as parents and caregivers to be aware of these behaviors to help our kiddos manage their emotions and provide opportunity for a successful transition back to school!

The best way to help our kiddos with new tasks is by creating predictability and maintaining consistency in their routines.  This will help ease their worry and fear while building their confidence for success.

 Simple Strategies to Help Back to School Transition: 

Waking and Bedtime Schedule

We all fall into the summer slump of less structure and organization in the routine of our days. Beginning at least a month prior to the first day of school, begin  implementing a waking and bedtime schedule that will mirror your child’s school time routine.

Visual calendar count down

Time is a vague concept for young kids, so counting the “number of sleeps” until school starts is a meaningful way to incorporate how many days until the first day of school.

Social Stories

Read social stories and talk about expectations for the new school year.  Don’t forget to highlight important details that you know they are looking forward to (including a favorite teacher, familiar classmates, exciting activities they are looking forward to that year), but also recognize and discuss novel tasks that may cause stress (such as attending at a new building, bus rides, lunchtime, whatever it may be).

New Peer Playdates

Reach out to local parent/community groups to set-up park meet-ups/ playdates to become familiar with new peers.

Trial Run

Do a trial run before school starts. Drive by your child’s school to create familiarity.  Is there a park accessible to play at? Go play to create positive experiences associated with the school. This will help to see where you might have some bumps getting on the road and need to tweek parts of your morning routine.

Label feelings

Validate their feelings. Use visuals when you can. Provide your child with a ‘toolbox” of calming strategies to attain/maintain a feeling of calmness throughout their day.

Model Confidence

Model your confidence to make them feel confident (even if you have to fake it); kids feed off of our emotions. This includes talk enthusiastically about what a positive experience this will be, avoid lingering at drop-offs and encourage participation in new activities.

Back to School Mantra

Create a mantra to repeat out loud.  “I am safe” is one of my favorites!

List of Resources

Below are a list of resourceful links to provide more information about typical/atypical behaviors, countdown calendars, addressing feelings and visuals for calming strategies:

  1. Managing Behavior Strategies
  2. Social Story
  3. Journals
  4. Emotions for Kids
  5. Back to School Countdown

Don’t forget, what may seem like a minor problem to us as adults, feels like a BIG problem to our kiddos, especially when they are learning to recognize and handle their big emotions.  Make the experience easier for them by  remaining calm if things do not go as planned, or their reactions don’t meet our expectations. Don’t forget to model flexibility to bumps in routines.  Also,  remember that changes don’t happen overnight and give your child time to settle into their new routines! If things don’t get easier and you would like some additional strategies, please schedule a screening with one of our therapists to help find individualized strategies for you and your child.

Written by Jamie Blough

Mealtime Wiggles

So frequently do I hear “my kid takes a bite to eat then leaves the table” or “my kid can’t sit still throughout his entire meal” creating a lengthy meal time and impacting positive mealtime dynamics. Here’s come tips and tricks for getting your child to sit for longer durations:

  • LOTS of heavy work right before meal time!
    • Helps get extra energy out right before having to sit down
    • Bear walks, wheelbarrow walks, rolling child up in a blanket like a burrito and then unrolling MANY times, frog hops, running and crashing into pillows/ blankets over and over, crawling over pillows/ blankets/ couch cushions thrown unevenly onto floor, inchworms, belly on ball arm walkouts, lifting or pushing heavy baskets
  • Wiggle cushion
    • Round or inclined textured cushions can help provide movement even while seated (can be purchased  on Amazon)
    • Can also place cushion on floor for child to stand and move on while remaining at table.
  • Weighted blanket or lap pad while seated; weighted shoulder wrap (also available on Amazon )
  • Boundary to maintain near table, even if not sitting.
    • Try a chair with arms on it
    • Provide painters tape boundary on floor for child to remain in during meal. Start off bigger and make boundary smaller as the child displays readiness. Be strict on maintaining in boundary area throughout meal.
    • Can provide sensory movement items in this area.
  • Thera-band wrapped around chair leg
    • Child can push legs/feet to fidget on band while sitting
  • Allow child to stand and eat if that’s what is needed to remain near table
  • Wobble stool (available on Amazon)
    • Only use if child has enough core stability and safety awareness
    • Ensure table height matches with chair height
    • Better for older children
  • Stabilize those little feet!
    • Stabilizing the feet will help to stabilize the core. When our core is not stable, our attention is overall decreased and chewing can become a chore.
  • Textures or fidgets
    • Attach velcro textures under table or chairs
    • Special “meal only” fidgets to play with and only while sitting or standing right at table
  • List of discussion topics for family to engage in
    • Talk about feelings  throughout day, favorite/ worst moments
    • Distraction is a great way to enhance attention
  • Have child walk around with weighted backpack for up to x20 minutes prior to meal
    • Can wear while helping set table
  • Timer
    • See how long the child can tolerate sitting, then lengthen the timer just a bit longer. When sitting for timer duration is easily attainable for child, adjust timer for a slightly longer time frame.

*Strategies may take multiple attempts to see change. Keep trying and be consistent!

*Some strategies may work, and some may not. That is okay! Find what is right for your child.

If your child is having trouble sitting still during mealtimes, during free time playing at home, in the school setting, and overall seeking extra movement from same aged peers or siblings don’t hesitate to give us a call. BDI Playhouse Children’s Therapy offers free screenings and consultations through Telehealth or at one of our child-friendly therapy gyms in Orland Park and Aurora, IL.

Written by: Rebecca MacKenzie, M.S., OTR/L

“I’m So Bored”

Movement and sensory experiences allow us to grow as an individual through problem solving, body awareness and creativity. Here are some great activities to get your child moving and ways to stay creative while the colder weather moves in!

Movement: Movement activities allow your child to get their energy out and move in a new way.

Make your own obstacle course

  • Find supplies around the house! Use pillows, chairs, a tunnel, baskets, blankets, painters tape, etc.
  • Add in some moves! Animal walks, hopping, walking backwards, jumping jacks, cross crawls, etc.

Tape pathways

  • Use some painters tape and make a variety of paths on the floor (zig zag, straight line, boxes, etc.)
  • Then have your child walk the path without losing their balance. OR have them push a toy car along the “road.”

Balloon tap

  • Blow up some balloons and let your child have fun!
  • Play keep it up, tap it back and forth, or even kick it!

Hide and seek

  • Hide a certain amount of objects around the house- this can be toys, pictures with different symbols, a deck of cards, etc.
  • Have your child scan the room to find the missing items!

Sensory Play: Sensory activities are also great for exploring new textures and being creative! 

Snow dough

  • Here is a link to the video and instructions!
  • Supplies needed: Hair conditioner and cornstarch
  • Once made, use cookie cutters, build a snowman, hide small items inside, etc.

 Ice cube painting

  • Use an ice cube tray and fill it with a mixture of water, koolaid or food coloring, then place a popsicle stick in each part and freeze it!
  • Once frozen, use them to paint

Sensory bins

  • Use a bin or even a ziploc bag to place various materials in. You can use:
    • cooked spaghetti, sand, crinkle paper, water, beans, rice, Pluffle, etc.
  • Hide some items within your chosen material and then find them! Examples of items:
    • Legos, action figures, cars, dinosaurs, puzzle pieces, blocks, animal toys, etc.

Shaving cream

  • Place shaving cream on a cookie tray with cars, legos, or any toy! And enjoy!

If your child has difficulty completing any of these gross motor tasks or tolerating any of these sensory related activities, schedule a free screen with BDI Playhouse Children’s Therapy through the office or the website at  https://bdiplayhouse.com/free-screenings/.

Written By: Kiersten Robertson, MOT, OTR/L


Reading Difficulties in Children

The Orton-Gillingham Approach

The path to reading for some children is not often an easy one. It is assumed that children will begin to read and spell naturally.  However, some children may persistently struggle with learning the process of how to read fluently.

Children who demonstrate challenges early on with word recognition, poor spelling, weakened decoding skills, and difficulty with their handwriting may continue to present with deficits within the areas of listening, reading, writing, and speaking, if intervention is not received.

There are numerous reading programs geared toward helping emergent readers as well as older children who are struggling using a more traditional approach to reading.  The Orton-Gillingham Approach was established to help provide a more systematic approach to reading, specifically for children with dyslexia. Research has shown that children without specific learning disabilities could also benefit from this approach in order to help them overcome their specific challenges. 

What is the Orton-Gillingham Approach?

The Orton-Gillingham Approach focuses on the five critical areas of reading:

  1. Phonemic Awareness
  2. Phonics
  3. Fluency
  4. Vocabulary
  5. Comprehension

The approach implements a multi-sensory approach by integrating the visual, auditory, and kinesthetic pathways to more efficiently teach children the rules and sequence of reading.

The Orton-Gillingham approach to reading follows a specific format to help teach these language skills and patterns in a systematic way. Orton-Gillingham begins with teaching the individual sounds.  Then it focuses on building words. By doing so, the child visually sees the letters, hears the sounds, then writes the letters.  Thereby, using a multisensory technique that includes these three sensory pathways.  This is referred to as the “language triangle”.

The specific lessons are flexible based upon the child’s level of functioning. They continue to build from simple to complex, as the children are taught the specific rules of language, such as spelling and decoding certain patterns in text. This ultimately helps to build upon their mastery. It leads to automaticity when reading, since there is a continual review of previously learned material during the sessions. The children cannot progress to the next level until they master certain lessons and drills. 

Early Indicators of Reading Difficulties

Teachers and parents will often recognize challenges with pre-reading skills in kindergarten, though some children may not demonstrate weaknesses with reading until after the second grade. Some early indicators of reading difficulties may include:

  • Family history of dyslexia or reading difficulty 
  • Weakened phonemic awareness skills
  • Decreased skill blending sounds and reduced comprehension of rhymes
  • Difficulty with letter and sound recognition 
  • Letter reversals (b-d) and inversions (w-m)
  • Lack of interest or avoidance of reading 
  • Dysfluent speech
  • Articulation errors: substitutions, omissions, cluster reduction  
  • Word retrieval difficulties
  • Frequent spelling errors 
  • Omitting words when reading 
  • Decreased processing speed when verbally responding 
  • Inconsistent memory and recall  
  • Poor executive functioning skills 
  • Weak handwriting skills 
  • Reduced auditory and/or reading comprehension 

Later Indicators of Reading Difficulties

Older children may present with language processing difficulties, as well as persistent challenges regarding their reading fluency, comprehension, handwriting, grammar, and spelling. Additionally, these children may have progressed with reading but continue to demonstrate deficits with clearly expressing their thoughts and ideas, therefore writing, vocabulary, and conversational skills may continue to be weak even years after they have acquired adequate reading skills.

Therefore, a more customized approach is warranted for these children to help them better succeed using strategies that will compliment the specific way they learn. By implementing the specific strategies using the Orton-Gillingham approach, children will continue to build upon their confidence and interest in reading by providing them with the skills they need in order to become more successful and proficient readers.  Does your child struggle?  Schedule a free screening with our Orton-Gillingham trained SLP.

Written by Meghan Grant, M.S. CCC-SLP