Early intervention is the battle cry of dyslexia experts across the world, yet much of the push for early intervention for dyslexia and catching kids up to their peers is based on the traditional school model and may not be necessary at all.

I saw a quote online this week.

Maybe you have seen it too.

Or something like it.

Something that quotes research saying if your dyslexic kids don’t receive the right kinds of intervention for their learning struggles EARLY, that they will be irreparably harmed, always be behind, or never read fluently, etc.

a quote about early intervention for dyslexia

I have SO many problems with this statement about early intervention for dyslexia.

Most if not all of my issues with this quote stem from the MAJOR differences between homeschooling a child with dyslexia and a dyslexic child being a part of the traditional educational model.

The deficits of the traditional school model are the only reason there is any truth to this this statement.

Let’s break this quote down line by line:

The best time for struggling readers to catch up is in the first year of school.

First of all the term ‘catching up’ is based on the deficit approach to dyslexia. The deficit approach to dyslexia implies that there is something wrong with our kids that needs to be fixed.

This is a normal response to the normal delayed learning of language that people with dyslexia experience IF they are surrounded by children that learn traditionally and IF the goal is to catch them up and make them more like traditional learners. In this approach, dyslexia is a deficit that needs to be fixed.

Read this to learn why I don’t look at dyslexia as a deficit any more.

In the first year of school, kindergarten for most children, kids are 5 or 6 years old. In my experience teaching kids with dyslexia to read and working with 1000s of parents who are working with their own kids, kids with dyslexia are often unable to master the concepts of fluent reading in kindergarten or first grade (roughly 5-7 years old).

They need time and lots of practice to learn to read. I don’t know any 5-7 year old kids with dyslexia who were able to read, write, or spell at the level of their peers who learn traditionally no matter how much early intervention and tutoring they have received.

This statement is misleading and causes unnecessary stress. Very few, if any, dyslexic kids are getting the help they need in kindergarten or first grade within the traditional school system anyway. If your kids have received appropriate interventions in the first year of school and caught up to their peers, please let me know!

Next line…

After that, it’s a law of diminishing returns and it takes more and more resources to try to bring these children up to speed. 

The second sentence is also misleading. It doesn’t take more resources to teach a child with dyslexia to read as they get older. Teaching kids with dyslexia to read is not a mystery. Research clearly shows what methods work to teach people with dyslexia to read (Orton-Gillingham) and depending on the severity of a child’s processing lags, it can take at least a few or possibly many years for a child to master the concepts of language and become a fluent reader. Spelling takes even longer to master.

Perhaps Dr. Snow is referring to the additional accommodations and support that are needed for an older child with dyslexia to keep up with what is being taught in the traditional classroom. Since they are moving too quickly for most dyslexic kids, rarely providing appropriate accommodations, and many teachers are unaware of what dyslexia is and how to help the students who have it, there can be a lot of problems.

Without the right kinds of support, dyslexic students in these environments often struggle to keep up with content which progresses despite their lack of understanding and mastery. This results in kids with dyslexia getting lost and falling behind which results in stress which leads to anxiety.

In my experience, while some kids with dyslexia learn to read in elementary school, it is completely normal for their learning to really take off in middle school. Spelling can be even later. There is something in a dyslexic child’s brain development that takes place in middle school that allows language learning to become much easier than in the elementary years, especiallly kindergarten and first grade.

Next line…

All the while, of course, they are missing out on academic content, and often developing mental health problems such as anxiety as a result of their reading problems and the embarrassment attached to these. 

Again, ‘missing out on academic content’ is only because kids with dyslexia are not being taught the way they learn or given appropriate levels of support so they can work at their intellectual ability within a traditional school setting. There is no reason for them to miss anything if their unique way of learning is accommodated and they are allowed to learn in ways they naturally learn and at their unique pace.

‘Often developing mental health problems, such as anxiety, as a result of their reading problems and the embarrassment attached to these.’ 

I have so much to say about this. 

Kids who are not taught with methods that work will not be reading and writing at grade level. This is the cause of anxiety. Imagine being in a learning environment all day long where you are unable to access the material (because you can’t read it) or comprehend the material (because their foundation is not strong). Anxiety forms when students are not given the support they need and then are judged by the same standards as traditional learners.

In conclusion…

Why early intervention for dyslexia may not be the answer.

The real goal of reading instruction should be to provide individualized instruction that allows for the unique differences not only in dyslexic children, but also for individual differences among children with dyslexia.


This quote might be helpful for school administrators and those who are responsible for the education of children with learning differences within the traditional school system.

School administrators are the ones who should be concerned about these statistics and be making changes. All children should be screened for dyslexia before there are issues. Schools could easily switch to evidence-based reading programs for ALL students so the kids with dyslexia can be taught how they learn and run less of a chance of falling behind their peers.

School administrators are the ones who should be concerned about children developing anxiety about learning and taking action to prevent it.

For parents of children with dyslexia, this quote adds an unfair and impossible burden to diagnose a child before the first year of school and get them the help they need, or else.

Appropriate Intervention for Students With Dyslexia

If your child is currently in a traditional learning environment and struggling, getting started homeschooling is easier than you think!

Homeschooling your kids is a big responsibility BUT there are a TON of benefits.

If you are wondering what those benefits are, read this post: 10 Reasons to Homeschool Your Kids With Dyslexia

Resources for Getting Started Homeschooling Kids With Dyslexia

Free Download: Guide to Homeschooling Kids With Dyslexia

Click here to get the free guide to homeschooling kids with dyslexia

My latest book: No More School: Meeting the Educational Needs of Kids With Dyslexia and Language-Based Learning Difficulties

Getting Started Homeschooling Master Class Bundles

These bundles of courses, books, and optional 1:1 consulting packages were designed to teach you what has taken me nearly 30 years to learn teaching my own kids with dyslexia.

Visit the Getting Started Homeschooling Information Page to Learn More

get started homeschool dyslexia

Have you worried about the statistics on early intervention for kids with dyslexia? After reading this post, how has your opinion changed?