Annals of Dyslexia

, Volume 67, Issue 3, pp 219–258 | Cite as

The impact of multisensory instruction on learning letter names and sounds, word reading, and spelling

  • Nora W SchlesingerEmail author
  • Shelley Gray


The purpose of this study was to investigate whether the use of simultaneous multisensory structured language instruction promoted better letter name and sound production, word reading, and word spelling for second grade children with typical development (N = 6) or with dyslexia (N = 5) than structured language instruction alone. The use of non-English graphemes (letters) to represent two pretend languages was used to control for children’s lexical knowledge. A multiple baseline, multiple probe across subjects single-case design, with an embedded alternating treatments design, was used to compare the efficacy of multisensory and structured language interventions. Both interventions provided explicit systematic phonics instruction; however, the multisensory intervention also utilized simultaneous engagement of at least two sensory modalities (visual, auditory, and kinesthetic/tactile). Participant’s graphed data was visually analyzed, and individual Tau-U and weighted Tau-U effect sizes were calculated for the outcome variables of letter name production, letter sound production, word reading, and word spelling. The multisensory intervention did not provide an advantage over the structured intervention for participants with typical development or dyslexia. However, both interventions had an overall treatment effect for participants with typical development and dyslexia, although intervention effects varied by outcome variable.


Dyslexia Multisensory Orton-Gillingham Structured language Typical development 



We greatly appreciate Lucasfilm Ltd. for the approval to use the Aurebesh letters from Star Wars © & ™ Lucasfilm Ltd. Many thanks are due to the participants and their families, the reading centers and schools who supported this study, and the visual analysts, research assistants, and volunteers whose support and hard work helped complete the study. We are grateful to the interventionists who went above and beyond to ensure a quality study.


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Copyright information

© The International Dyslexia Association 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Speech and Hearing ScienceArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  2. 2.Department of Elementary and Early Childhood EducationKennesaw State UniversityKennesawUSA

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