Launching the Summer of Repairing Dyslexia

Dyslexics don’t have a problem with learning, they can learn anything if taught in a suitable way.  But the skill they especially don’t learn is READING.   Poor reading often leads to educational failure, LD classrooms, bullying, and emotional problems.

Yet reading is just a skill we all can learn, if taught properly.  There is no magic, just lots of sustained hard work with simple techniques like systematic phonics, and lots of practice.

I will show how – step-by-step – by running an “intensive” dyslexia intervention and posting daily updates on our progress.  I will provide free tools, explore techniques and issues, answer questions, and provide support to anyone that wants to copy us.   EVERYTHING IS FREE.

I’m looking for a healthy middle-school student with severe reading deficit.  We are going to get him caught up and reading at grade level.  If your child is in an LD or ‘Behavior’ class, we will get him back into the mainstream.   APD or ADHD isn’t a problem.  And it’s FREE.

I’m offering this intervention in return for letting me record and discuss our daily progress online and make instructional videos.  Of course I won’t use your child’s name.

We will train 2-3 hours every morning, five days a week.  The location is mid-town Toronto.  It won’t be a relaxing summer, but it will change your child’s life.

Are you interested in getting help for YOUR struggling reader?  Send me a PM.  Maybe you want to follow us and replicate the intervention with your child at your own speed, that’s awesome.  Or maybe you want to learn how to do it for others.





About Dyslexia

Dyslexia in its most common form is a failure to develop ‘phonological awareness’, a skill that is only developed during learning to read an alphabetic language.  Without it emerging readers must compensate by guessing at words.  But guessing isn’t real reading, and is effortful, slow, and error-prone.  Each of those factors reduces  comprehension and makes reading an unpleasant struggle.

In grade 4 students must switch from “learning to read” to “reading to learn”, and the ones that don’t or can’t are quickly left behind.  A chasm opens between strong readers who hone their reading skills with practice, and weak readers who avoid reading.

As they fall behind, non-readers often develop self-esteem issues, emotional problems, and self-defeating behaviors.  They may act up and be assigned to a ‘Behavior’ class, or simply fall so far behind that they are assigned to an LD class.  They often get bullied.  And even in the best case, they barely learn anything in school.

Many parents think school will help their child, but that rarely happens.  IEP’s and accommodations placate the parents, but leave the students adrift and uneducated.


About the Intervention

This is a one-on-one “intensive” intervention, building on the protocols of the Torgesen Study.  We will systematically train blending and segmenting, phonics, finger-point reading, fluency, comprehension, spelling, writing skills, metacognition, and learning skills.

We will work 2-3 hours per day, five mornings a week.  At this intensity, a student will usually gain about a year in reading level each month.  But it will still take 4-5 months for a grade-8 student to recover to grade level.  If we start in mid-June, then we may have to train until October; at your option we will continue and your child will miss some school in the fall.

The first job is almost always to repair the ‘phonological awareness’ skill deficit, a relatively quick and easy process using systematic phonics.  Then we will address the longer, harder job of racing through an intensive reading program to gain grade-level skills and reset self-defeating behaviours.

To see what the first few days of the intervention might look like, check out the Christmas Intervention that we blogged about earlier this year.



I run volunteer reading clinics for low-income non-readers in Toronto.  Typically our students are in grade 7 or 8, and come to us reading at grade 2 or less.  When they graduate our clinics, they are often the best readers in their classroom.

I’m a real person, you can learn almost anything about me with a few clicks.  My house is across the street from UCC, if you live in midtown then you probably drive by it.  You might know my friends on Facebook and Linkedin.

My first degree was in Engineering, and I worked in software for most of my career.  I was 52 when I sold my company.  I returned to school for a graduate degree in Education, and spent three years reading every research paper I could find about reading and dyslexia.

Everything in this project is free.  Really free, I don’t even allow advertising on my site.   My goals for this project are:

  1. Spread the word:  Reading failure is merely educational failure and completely repairable.
  2. Build a step-by-step exemplar with all the necessary tools, suitable for parents, teachers, tutors, and volunteers.  All free, of course.
  3. Help the student we recruit become a strong reader.  This is simply the parable of the starfish on the beach.

This website is a work-in-progress.  This is where I will blog about the intervention, and there are discussion forums (still empty) for parents who want to follow along.  If we build a community, I can easily add tools like a wiki.  We will post periodic updates to Facebook.

This is a ‘Reality Television’ approach – I could easily talk about a child that I’ve already helped, but that would lack credibility and interest.

The Ideal Candidate

I’m looking for a dyslexic student with a severe reading deficit, healthy, ideally going into middle school, but as young as going-into-grade 4.  APD or ADHD isn’t a problem as long as not being medicated – in the Torgesen study it was estimated that 80% of his recruits suffered from attention deficit.  APD would make the intervention relevant to more readers.

Perhaps your child seems to read, but uses memorized words and guessing from context and first-and-last letters, with very low comprehension.  Perhaps he throws a tantrum when he is asked to read, and you have no idea how well he understands.  Every child is a bit different, we’ll figure it out.

The KEY thing is to show up for training every day.  If your child is already finding ways to miss school,  then it is probably too late.

Next Steps

Contact me if you are interested in having your child participate in the intervention.



Posted in ReadingBlog
8 comments on “Launching the Summer of Repairing Dyslexia
  1. Silvia Hope says:

    If you ever develop a program I would really like to help children with dyslexia in Meridian Idaho … thank you for making a difference .. yhank you

    • Tom Berend says:

      Hi Silvia, that’s awesome. We have the bits-and-pieces of a program. It’s all free, but no objection if you run a for-profit business. Check out the video on the front page of this site to find out about a free clinic we ran last year.

  2. Lisa says:

    Where exactly is this in Florida?

  3. Ashlie says:

    Do you have a program that a certified teacher who is homeschooling her son with APD and dyslexia could do with her son? My son is 9 and going into third grade and reading on a K/1st level and I would love to help him, but therapy in my town costs over $8000 for just 40 sessions and I can not afford it.

    • tberend says:

      Hi Ashlie, We have most the bits-and-pieces, and hope that documenting an intervention over the summer will provide the rest. But let me suggest this if you want to start right away: If your child knows his alphabet and knows the consonant letter sound correspondences, then simply roll into the BLENDING program. Find it here: Free, of course.

      Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have questions or concerns. And you would do a great favor to other parents if you shared your experience and results..

  4. Nalleli says:

    Hello, my son is 15 years old. His reading level from two years ago was a fourth grade level. Now he is in High School and having a very hard time reading math problems and of course all related with reading. He has APD. Is there a way he could participate?

    • tberend says:

      Hi Nalleli,

      Yes, please participate! – here’s how:

      We will be working with a single student here in Toronto (I’m meeting with his mom on Monday to firm up the details). He is 14 and not anywhere near fourth-grade level, he is described as a ‘non-reader’.

      We will be blogging almost-daily, describing the training steps, and the issues we run into. The tools are free. Simply follow along at your own pace.

      It’s hard for a mom to tutor her son, there’s too much ‘friction’. If you can, hire a high-school student to tutor your son EVERY DAY over the summer. A 15-year-old will love being taught by a slightly older student, they are like gods. And then YOU can be the cheerleader, encouraging and celebrating wins.

      Best way to follow along is on Facebook – ‘Like’ our page at Ask questions, share your experiences, and help support other moms in the same situation.

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