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The Orton-Gillingham Approach

The Orton-Gillingham approach is the recommended way to teach ​reading and writing to people with learning differences like dysgraphia and dyslexia. 

"Orton" refers to Dr. Samuel T. Orton who was the first to describe dysgraphia in the scientific literature (1). Orton was a neuropsychiatrist who studied language processing in children. "Gillingham" is for Dr. Anna Gillingham, an educator and psychologist who trained other teachers in their scientifically-based approach. 

This approach is:

  • Structured & Systematic (has a method with well defined organization)

  • Sequential (from easiest to hardest based on the research)

  • Cumulative (increases learning by slowly adding content)

  • Simultaneously multi-sensory (delivers information by sight, sound, touch, and movement at the same time)

  • Based in language principles (phonological, orthographical and morphological)

  • Scientifically peer-reviewed​

The multi-sensory component of the Orton-Gillingham approach is critical. Students should be incorporating all of their senses (sight, sound, touch, movement) while learning language. 


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There are many different curriculum that use an Orton-Gillingham approach. We recommend researching potential curricula for you or your child and asking if they are Orton-Gillingham based. You can also find multi-sensory teaching products on our resources page

You may also be interested in this blog piece on the definition of "Structured Literacy" and how it includes Orton-Gillingham approaches. 


(1) Orton S. Reading, Writing and Speech Problems in Children: A Presentation of Certain Types of Disorders in the Development of the Language Faculty,1937.


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