Ep. 22: How Students with Dyslexia Can Develop the Skills Needed for Reading with Forough Azimi

Mar 23, 2021 | 0 comments

Today we get the opportunity to continue the conversation from last week’s episode on dyslexia. We’ve talked about what dyslexia is and the common myths surrounding the language-based disorder. But now, how can we help students who have been diagnosed? Because of our guest today on the Diverse Thinking · Different Learning, we can move forward in learning about ways to support these students.

Today’s guest is Forough Azimi. Forough is the Center Director for Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes at the Westwood office in Southern California and has been working for the organization for about 10 years. Starting out in what she thought would be a temporary position, Forough has found her passion in supporting students with dyslexia and their families through direct, differentiated, and intense instruction, all of which she describes in this episode.


It is important to note that physician and scientist, Dr. Sally Shaywitz, whose research studies have provided the framework and details for our understanding of dyslexia says that there is a need for a community that disseminates 21st-century knowledge to educators, policymakers, and the parents of dyslexic children. We want to be part of that community, which is why we are continuing the discussion about dyslexia and how to address the challenges that 20% of students face.


Show Notes:

[2:22] – Starting off the conversation about dyslexia, Dr. Wilson reminds us of the previous episode’s discussion on the myths of dyslexia and what it truly is.

[3:29] – Because dyslexia is a spectrum, Forough explains that no two students with dyslexia are the same. She gives examples of what some of the struggles may be.

[4:34] – After receiving a diagnosis, Forough says that it is important to be able to pinpoint a student’s abilities and how dyslexia manifests for that student.

[5:28] – Forough describes a scenario to demonstrate how a weakness in decoding can lead to difficulty in comprehension and how they feed on each other.

[7:42] – Students who don’t self-correct while they read – it will impact their visualization of the text. This also impacts vocabulary for many students.

[8:49] – Karen lists the components of reading to illustrate how complex reading really is.

[9:11] – Forough explains how she shares information about dyslexia with parents to break down the complexity of reading and the student’s area of weakness.

[10:08] – There is not a one-size-fits-all intervention for students with dyslexia. The struggle could be in a multitude of areas and vary per child.

[11:39] – In regards to interventions, there are so many programs out there to help, but Dr. Wilson points out that you need to go with the program that has the most evidence.

[12:32] – We have to do research to see if a specific program and a specific method of intervention actually makes changes. 

[13:31] – At Lindamood-Bell, their research is centered around retention of skills and strategies and they look deeply at their intensive model of instruction.

[14:11] – Forough describes the study of the neurological change that is made after a student’s intensive model of instruction with Lindamood-Bell programs.

[16:07] – When Forough is able to provide that research to parents, it provides so much hope for improvement in reading.

[17:17] – Using sight word reading as an example, Forough describes how she looks for underlying problems with the component skills in reading.

[18:03] – Once she knows what is the most difficult for the student, she knows what to target with the programs at Lindamood-Bell.

[18:33] – Forough describes a few of the programs used at Lindamood-Bell and what problem they address.

[20:04] – Many parents who get a diagnosis for their child later in their schooling may feel like things are too late. But Karen and Forough clear up that it can get better.

[21:00] – It doesn’t matter how old a student is, direct and differentiated instruction is impactful.

[23:42] – Karen and Forough discuss writing and dysgraphia and how Lindamood-Bell supports students who have difficulty. 

[25:31] – The intensity of instruction is key. Changes can’t be made in just one day a week. At Lindamood-Bell, they create a schedule for students and most are working with them 5 days a week for several hours.

[26:46] – There is some sort of learning loss every summer. Because of this unusual school year with the COVID-19 pandemic, learning loss may be higher for some students.

[27:22] – It is very motivating for students to have difficulty with something on Monday and notice the changes and progress by Friday because of intense instruction.

[28:51] – Lindamood-Bell has the luxury of one-on-one instruction. Schools also work well with the program and collaborate well.

[30:18] – There are so many barriers for parents getting their child access to evidence-based intervention.

[31:35] – There are a lot of programs available and it can seem overwhelming. 

[32:53] – Forough describes the results of targeted instruction and how amazing the progress is.

[33:39] – More and more school districts are starting to pay for the Lindamood-Bell programs.

[34:53] – It makes more sense to spend a summer doing intense instruction than to do a small amount each week over the span of years.

[35:57] – The ultimate goal for Lindamood-Bell is to unlock a student’s love of reading.

[37:01] – Forough shares a story of a student who is now graduating from college and the renewed sense of confidence she has.


About Our Guest:

Forough Azimi has a B.S. in Psychology from the Georgia Institute of Technology and has been working with Lindamood-Bell (LMB) for just under 10 years. She has worked in LMB Learning Centers in Georgia, New York, Singapore, and now Los Angeles. She has also worked with the LMB School Partnerships division to help implement programs in small groups and train teachers in how to use their programs in a classroom setting. She has been the Center Director of the Westwood Learning Center since March 2020.

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