Tutoring vs. Intervention

Know the Difference

mom working with daughter on school

Getting your child a dyslexia diagnosis is a significant hurdle in your family’s journey. Securing appropriate services can seem like another steep hill to climb. A simple search on Google or Dyslexia Group Facebook pages can lead to many  dyslexia intervention programs. How do you know whether your child would benefit more from Barton Tutoring, an Orton Gillingham approach, or something like the Lindamood Bell Phoneme Sequencing Program, commonly known as LiPS?

Here are some questions to ask that may help you  to find the best form of support for your child. 

1. What’s the difference between intervention and tutoring? 

In the dyslexia world, the difference between intervention and tutoring is not as straightforward as you might think. 

To intervene means to come between two things in order to alter the course of events. When I think of an interventionist, I imagine someone like myself–a speech-language pathologist– or any trained specialist with credentials. 

A tutor is someone who teaches a student or small group. When I think of tutoring, I think of someone who helps with homework, or someone who helps with after school activities.  A tutor is typically someone who lacks credentials to provide direct therapy, but has been trained on a specific program. Where it gets muddy is that one could argue that tutors provide intervention that is aimed at improving literacy outcomes in children with dyslexia. 

Is that to say that tutors are less helpful than interventionists? Not necessarily, because we all know that credentials do not necessarily equate with knowledge. 

2. What are some benefits and drawbacks of seeing an interventionist instead of a tutor? 

Interventionists have one specific strength that stands out–they are trained to treat dyslexia and not rely on one specific curriculum. For example, while I am trained to treat dyslexia using the Lindamood-Bell Phoneme Sequencing (LiPS) intervention, I can modify my treatment plan if I find that using LiPS is not helpful to my client. Additionally, if I am treating a client who has dyslexia and a language impairment, I can treat both simultaneously. Interventionists typically can use an arsenal of materials to treat dyslexia, provided they have training and experience. 

One of the biggest drawbacks of seeing an interventionist is typically the cost. Since interventionists have gone through years of schooling, they may charge upwards of $80 or more for an hour-long session. Furthermore, dyslexia intervention is typically not covered by insurance, unless the client has another co-occurring disorder, such as a speech sound disorder or a language impairment. So while using an interventionist may be the better choice, for many it is simply not financially feasible. 

3. What are some benefits and drawbacks of seeing a tutor instead of an interventionist? 

The primary benefit of seeing a tutor is likely the cost-savings. Prices vary, but tutors often charge less than interventionists because they lack credentials. This can be a benefit for families who would like to provide their child with more support for a lesser price. Another benefit of some tutors is that they may have had a child or other family member diagnosed with dyslexia, which led them to get trained in a dyslexia intervention–giving them some first-hand experience that an interventionist may lack.

When choosing a tutor, remember that tutors provide support in the interventions in which they have been trained. They may not be able to support your child’s dyslexia in other ways as needed. So if your child is working with a tutor trained in intervention X, and your child does not respond well to that intervention, you will have to hope the tutor is trained in another intervention, or you may have to find another tutor. 

4. What should I look for in an interventionist or tutor? 

Here are some ideas of what you can ask an interventionist or tutor to see if they are a good fit for your child: 

  • What training do you have in dyslexia intervention? 
  • What programs are you trained in? 
  • Why do you think ‘X’ program will benefit my child over another? 
  • How do you inspire children during a therapy or tutoring session? 
  • What will you do if it appears my child is not responding well to X intervention?  
  • Roughly how many sessions do you expect my child to need in order for them to make adequate progress? 

Either way, tutoring or intervention takes time. As your child moves through school, new concepts will be taught and your child may take time to grasp what they are learning. However, with foundational skills in place, they will be equipped to make progress in their learning. 

Put simply, once they’ve got it, they’ve got it!

Red Square Pegs was established to empower dyslexics by embracing dyslexia through awareness and shared experiences and to be a symbol of acceptance, pride, and confidence.