Dyslexia: Barton vs AAR

My son probably has dyslexia…we will have him tested soon but I’m already looking into curriculum.

I’ve been using Progressive Phonics for reading and All About Spelling for spelling. He’s done better on Progressive Phonics than just Bob Books (which was what I was using originally, just because we couldn’t afford All About Reading at the time we started, and then I found the free program and it seemed to work for our needs at the time). But now I know I want something more intensive and more geared specifically towards dyslexia if that’s what he has.

I’m looking into All About Reading or Barton.

He’s done well with All About Spelling (he’s more consistent in his spelling than in his reading…not really further along, because we take a long time on each concept, but he does well with AAS).

Reading, even things he knows he’ll just get derailed…

I like the idea of AAR because it will reinforce AAS and I think that reinforcement would be good, and he’s familiar with the type of methods they use in spelling so if they use similar ones for reading, that will make it easier.

But I’ve heard a lot of people say Barton is better.

And I looked into it and it seems like they use similar manipulatives (letter tiles) .

Suggestions on which to use?

Could I use some of my AAS manipulatives for Barton?

There are some differences between the manipulatives for AAR/AAS and Barton, so if you go with Barton, you’ll want to go with their manipulatives. That said, since AAS has worked well, AAR could really work for him. The author developed the program because her son had severe dyslexia and some other learning disabilities, she tutored for over 20 years, has taught Orton-Gillingham to graduate students, is a member of the International Dyslexia Association etc… Here’s a short video about their son: Failure Is Not an Option, and here’s a link to their Dyslexia Resources page.


I’ve used both (ended up using something completely else) and both are good. However, since AAR/AAS is much less expensive, I’d go with that first. Good luck.


I have a dyslexic DD. We started out using AAR, made it okay through level 1 but level 2 progressed too quickly and made too many jumps for her that it caused a lot of frustration and we eventually quit using it. We tried LOE after that and then eventually went to Barton, which we are still using. I needed something all laid out for me with plenty of extra practice options available (without me needing to create something). We add in some game options that Barton gives the tutors or use the games make by Spelling Success for whichever level we are on in Barton. I feel like Barton has a bit more hand-holding along the way. Many kids with mild dyslexia have done just fine with AAR and I have read of others using AAR with more severe dyslexics, but those also seem to supplement with a lot of other material as well. For my severe dyslexic, Barton has been what we needed. It has taught me how to teach her better and error correct better each step of the way, there are plenty of built in review options available for the lessons that need extra review (there is an online tutor support page with extra items available to print outside of even the packet you purchase for each level), and having access to Susan Barton or other tutors in her office for help if needed has been nice. Wilson and OG training classes were not available to me when I found Barton. I have heard of others using those as well. A family member of mine uses a different approach with a tutor for their dyslexic child that has been a great fit for them, but we are too rural to have any dyslexia tutors available in our area. Both Barton and AAR have a high resale value. I do not recall the return policy of Barton, but if you buy directly from AAR I believe they have a 1-year return policy (it has been a while since I verified that) so you could always try AAR first and return it if it doesn’t work as an option.

All that said, there is a pre-test that is available on the Barton website. If a child can’t pass the Barton pre-test, he or she will not be ready for either program and may need something like LiPS to build enough phonemic awareness to be successful at any reading or spelling program designed for dyslexics.

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