The Online Reading Tutor Dyslexia Screener App screens for dyslexia in under 10 minutes. Parents and educators love it because they can actually see the student’s errors. The App assesses both visual dyslexia (ab / ad) or (ba / ab)  and auditory (dysphonetic) dyslexia ( bu / bi ).  (The author uses the terms visual dyslexia and auditory dyslexia as defined by Dr Nancy Mather in her book Essentials of Dyslexia)

The App uses the fact that dyslexic readers process language more slowly than fluent readers and they read by memory. The App assesses the student’s ability to decode nonsense words (sometimes referred to as pretend words or pseudo words). Non-impaired readers can read nonsense words because of their very good phonological decoding ability. Some examples of some nonsense words are za, az, tulp, blit, pult, laip, and toud. Non-impaired readers can sound out these kinds of words because they can decode the sounds. According to Dr. Sally Shaywitz, “The ability to read nonsense words is the best measure of phonological decoding skills in children. The reader literally has to penetrate the sound structure of the word and sound it out, phoneme by phoneme; there is no other way.” (Overcoming Dyslexia, Dr. Shaywitz, 2003, pages 133-134).  

The App nonsense words have not been seen before or memorized.  Dyslexics cannot hide behind nonsense words, guessing and hoping they are right.  They either have the decoding skills necessary for decoding or they do not. The student hears a target nonsense word like pud, and then sees 3 choices like dup, pid, pud and must choose the correct one. The type of nonsense words presented as well as the amount of time given to answer the question depends on the student’s grade. In the following App result the grade 4 student can name the alphabet accurately, but his dyslexia is shown by the difficulty linking letters with sound as well as his visual dyslexia (mirror image reversals).  Examples of this student’s errors are listed beside the score. 

Grade 4 dyslexic’s decoding score.

The Dyslexia Screener confirms this adult’s dyslexia.

The dyslexia screener app confirms this adult’s dyslexia.

Not only are nonsense words used in diagnosing dyslexia, teaching dyslexics to read them is a very effective way to teach decoding.  We use nonsense words to eliminate guessing; there is no way to accurately decode nonsense words if you have to guess. If a student cannot guess the word, they have to use their decoding skills. This forces the student to focus on sounding words out from left to right. Using nonsense words helps wire the  rear left side of the brain and dramatically improves phonological decoding.

Our Orton-Gillingham based lessons teaches the student to automatically decode the App nonsense word at over 94% accuracy.  Teaching students to decode nonsense words  is one of the reasons Online Reading Tutor is so effective at teaching dyslexics to read. We teach fluent or automatic decoding skills first using letter names and letter sounds and then seven different types of nonsense words:

  1. cv/vc  examples : ze, ba, da, ux  ( c = consonant, v = vowel)
  2. cvc examples: zip , poz, pux, baj
  3. cvcv examples: zune, pupe, dode, bode
  4. cvcc examples: zemp, bilt, rult, vish,
  5. ccvc examples:  zlit, plon, druf, clep
  6. cvvc group 1 examples: zeen, beaz, heek, toam,
  7. cvvc group 2 examples: zaut, coip, foud, gooz

The student learns to automatically decode these letter patterns in both our visual match and auditory-visual match decoding lessons. We explain to our students that the key to rapidly and automatically decoding multisyllabic words is to know these nonsense words. Words like homogenous, surreptitious, and automaticity  are all made up of these nonsense words. When decoding becomes automatic, comprehension improves dramatically.

We use the App to assess the student’s learning throughout training.  This student showed significant improvement in her decoding after 30 hours doing our Orton-Gillingham based lessons

Dyslexia Screener App shows this student’s decoding improvement.

This dyslexic student shows significant gains in reading fluency after 30 hours of Orton-Gillingham based lessons.

Use our free Dyslexia Screener App today to find out in under ten minutes if you or your child is at risk of having a specific reading disability including dyslexia.