Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that affects an individual's ability to read, write, and spell. It is a neurological disorder that is characterized by difficulty in processing language, particularly phonemes (the smallest units of sound in a language). This can make it difficult for individuals with dyslexia to learn to read, spell, and write, even when they have been taught using traditional methods.
Dyslexia is not a problem with intelligence or motivation. Individuals with dyslexia are often just as intelligent and motivated as their peers, but they may have difficulty with language-based tasks due to the way their brains process information. Dyslexia can affect individuals of any age and any background, and it is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
The most common symptoms of dyslexia include difficulty with reading, spelling, and writing; difficulty with phonemic awareness (the ability to hear and manipulate the sounds in words); and difficulty with phonological processing (the ability to connect sounds with letters and words). Individuals with dyslexia may also have difficulty with handwriting and may be slow at reading and comprehending text. Dyslexia is typically diagnosed through a combination of standardized testing, teacher input, and information from the student and their parents.
How to teach students with dyslexia?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to teaching students with dyslexia, as each student's needs and abilities may be different. However, there are some general strategies that can be effective in helping students with dyslexia learn and succeed in the classroom. These might include:
Using a multisensory approach to instruction, which incorporates visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning modalities. For example, a teacher might use a combination of reading, writing, and hands-on activities to teach a concept. You can also use flashcards, puppets, story videos, and real objects in the classroom.
Providing explicit, systematic instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, and vocabulary. This can help students with dyslexia learn to decode words and improve their reading skills.
Using assistive technology, such as text-to-speech software, to help students with dyslexia access and comprehend written materials. A great example of an assistive device are L-shaped cards, which students can use to frame sections of textbook pages and help focus their attention. They can use them to cover reading texts and reveal one line at a time as they read.
Providing accommodations, such as extra time on tests or assignments, or allowing students to use assistive technology, to level the playing field and help students with dyslexia demonstrate their knowledge and skills. For example, students might ‘draw’ rather than write notes.
Working closely with parents, tutors, and other specialists to provide a coordinated, comprehensive approach to supporting the student's learning.
It is important to recognize that students with dyslexia are individuals with unique strengths and challenges and to tailor instruction and support to meet their specific needs.