The Literacy Clinic

The Orton-Gillingham Instructional Approach

Dr. Samuel Torrey Orton (1879-1948) was a prominent researcher whose neuroscientific information helped identify dyslexia as early as 1925In collaboration with Anna Gillingham (1878–1963), a remedial teacher and psychologist, he developed procedures and comprehensive materials for early identification and remediation of dyslexic children. The result was a multisensory approach which involved all four neuro pathways (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile) to become engaged simultaneously when learning how to read. 

The Orton-Gillingham Approach to reading acquisition that was developed in the 1930's is still believed to be the most effective dyslexia treatment available today. Although it was initially developed for individuals who have dyslexia, it remains a sound, highly recommended approach for anyone learning how to read and is ideal for students of any learning style. 

Dr. Orton's key contribution to the field of education was the concept of "multisensory" teaching–integrating kinesthetic (movement-based) and tactile (sensory-based) learning strategies with teaching of visual and auditory concepts. Dr. Orton wanted a way to teach reading that would integrate right and left brain functions. He was influenced by the work of fellow psychiatrist Grace Fernald, who had developed a kinesthetic approach involving writing in the air and tracing words in large written or scripted format, while simultaneously saying the names and sounds of the letters.  Later, Orton began working with psychologist Anna Gillingham, who introduced a systematic and orderly approach of categorizing and teaching a set of 70 phonograms, single letters and letter pairs representing the 44 discrete sounds (or phonemes) found in English. In the years since Dr. Orton's death in 1948, his name has come to be strongly associated with the Orton-Gillingham teaching method, which remains the basis of the most prevalent form of remediation and tutoring for children with dyslexia, or dyslexia-like symptoms, such as reading disabilities.  (Wikipedia)