Working With Dyslexia
Dyslexia is a life-long condition. With proper help people with dyslexia can learn to read and/or write well. Early identification and treatment is the key to helping dyslexics achieve in school and in life. Most people with dyslexia need help from a teacher, tutor, or therapist specially trained in using a multisensory, structured language approach. It is important for these individuals to be taught by a method that involves several senses (hearing, seeing, touching) at the same time. Many individuals with dyslexia need one-on-one help so that they can move forward at their own pace. For students with dyslexia, it is helpful if their outside academic therapists work closely with classroom teachers.
Schools can implement academic modifications to help dyslexic students succeed. For example, a student with dyslexia can be given extra time to complete tasks, or help with taking notes, and/or appropriate work assignments. Teachers can give taped tests or allow dyslexic students to use alternative means of assessment. Students can benefit from listening to books-on-tape and from writing on computers.
What Kind of Instruction Does a Child with Dyslexia Need?
Dyslexia and other related learning disorders cannot be cured. Proper instruction promotes reading success and alleviates many difficulties associated with dyslexia. Instruction for individuals with learning differences should be:
- Explicit—directly teaches skills for reading, spelling, and writing
- Systematic and Cumulative—has a definite, logical sequence of concept introduction
- Structured—has step-by-step procedures for introducing, reviewing, and practicing concepts
- Multisensory—engages the visual, auditory, and kinesthetic channels simultaneously or in rapid succession.
Multisensory teaching is simultaneously visual, auditory, and kinesthetic-tactile to enhance memory and learning. Links are consistently made between the visual (what we see), auditory (what we hear), and kinesthetic-tactile (what we feel) pathways in learning to read and spell.
Children with dyslexia often exhibit weaknesses in auditory and/or visual processing. They may have weak phonemic awareness, meaning they are unaware of the role sounds play in words. They have difficulty rhyming words, blending sounds to make words, or segmenting words into sounds. They may also have difficulty acquiring a sight vocabulary. That is, dyslexic children do not learn the sight words expected in the primary grades. In general, they do not pick up the alphabetic code or system. When taught by a multisensory approach, children have the advantage of learning alphabetic patterns and words by utilizing all three pathways.
What Parents Can Do
When parents learn about dyslexia, reading, and special education from this Web site and other reliable sources, they will be able to help their children in meaningful ways. In addition to advocating for effective instruction in the classroom, parents can practice reading at home, work constructively with the school, help with social and emotional challenges, and provide support at home.
Adapted with permission from three fact sheets from the International Dyslexia Association: Dyslexia Basics; Dyslexia and Related Disorders; and Multisensory Teaching.