Why are Adults Different?

I have great respect for every individual who sits down at my work table, regardless of their age. But there is a special respect I have for the adult client who willingly takes the time and dedicates the financial resources to better themselves. Interestingly, most of the adult clients I see have already achieved many of the obstacles parents of my younger clients fear their children won’t. They have graduated from high school and most of the college. They are successful in their fields, admired by colleagues and have fulfilling family and social lives. While they are easily regarded as successful, they have a lingering weakness that they want to address. I admire the courage and discipline this takes.

As clinicians, we are well equipped and armed to address language, learning and literacy issues. Our techniques are well proven and effective. However, as clinicians we are not always best equipped with the current best practices for adult learning principals. Adults need to see the immediate application of the lessons and skills being taught more so than younger learners. This is a principal that drives professional trainings and professional development in all fields. Yet, at times this fundamental lesson is lost in adult literacy intervention sessions. Adults need to leave a session being able to complete the statement, “Based on what I learned today, I will ____________ differently in my job or life.”

I have found that a simple way to employ this principal is by teaching basic decoding skills within multisyllabic words. What?!?!? Yes, I have heard the wrath from many traditionalist who are trained in O.G., but I do it, and it works. I have found that teaching single sound letter correspondences and blending CVC words works as well in single syllable CVC words as it does in a multisyllabic word with a CVCCVC structure. I have also found that creating the sessions around their spelling errors is a great way to address therapy. I choose a misread or misspelled word and create the entire intervention session around this word pattern. I know that this varies from fidelity and means that I am flirting with scope and sequence, but I feel confident in doing so and I believe that this individualization helps meet the unique learning needs of adults, in addition to their unique needs as dyslexics.