Judith Rusinko, PsyD, is a 2011 graduate of the PsyD Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, Seattle.

Dissertation Committee

  • Patricia Linn, Ph.D. (Committee Chair)
  • Jennifer Blair, Ph.D. (Committee Member)
  • Jay Uomoto, Ph.D. (Committee Member)


dyslexia, msli, multisensory structured language instruction, executive functioning, reading disabiity, theoretical model

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Multisensory Structured Language Instruction has been used for decades by clinicians and practitioners as an intervention for teaching students with dyslexia. Multisensory Structured Language Instruction uses the integration of multiple senses (visual, auditory, and kinesthetic/tactile) simultaneously to teach literacy. Although the anecdotal evidence for Multisensory Structured Language Instruction is strong, there is a lack of empirical evidence to support its effectiveness. In addition, Multisensory Structured Language Instruction includes the foundational skills recommended by the National Reading Panel (2000), but the use of multiple senses to teach these skills has not been thoroughly studied. This theoretical dissertation focused on one element of Multisensory Structured Language Instruction that has not been adequately explored in the literature. A vast amount of brain imaging research demonstrates how the brain reads and writes and how a brain with dyslexia works A vast amount of brain imaging research demonstrates how the brain reads and writes and how a brain with dyslexia works differently from a typically developing brain. However, this research has mainly focused on the visual and auditory elements of learning to read. The kinesthetic modality has not been explored with respect to language learning disorders. This theoretical dissertation specifically examines the kinesthetic modality and offers a hypothesis as to why incorporating this modality into intervention may help some students with dyslexia. A literature review in the areas of dyslexia, Multisensory Structured Language Instruction, executive functioning, phonological awareness, attention, and learning disabilities was used to construct a theoretical model to explain the use of the kinesthetic modality for dyslexia intervention. Results are twofold: that Multisensory Structured Language Instruction is effective in teaching students with dyslexia because its pedagogy is grounded in methods supported by learning theory; and that use of the kinesthetic modality is useful for students who exhibit specific deficits in rapid automatic naming, a processing deficit underlying many students’ reading difficulties. The use of the kinesthetic modality improves rapid naming via attention and uses the teacher as a surrogate central executive. An intervention model was also constructed to triage students who would benefit from this intervention. Students with a single deficit in phonological processing only are treated with linguistically based interventions, while students with double-deficits in both phonological processing and rapid naming benefit from the addition of the kinesthetic modality. The electronic version of this dissertation is accessible at the OhioLink ETD Center,