What Is Dyslexia and How Can We Help?
Imagine What It's Like
How would you like to have to read an entire book backwards and then be asked questions to check your comprehension? That is what it is like for many people who suffer from a learning disability called dyslexia. The Dyslexia Research Institute states that 10 to 15 percent of the population have dyslexia disorder. Let’s apply that number to a typical classroom: In a class of 30 students, that means 3 to 5 students have the disorder. That is quite a bit!
Dyslexia, as defined by the Mayo Clinic, is an impairment in the brain’s ability to translate written language received by the eyes into meaningful language. Dyslexia not only affects a person’s ability to read, but also affects his or her writing skills and math skills.
People with dyslexia may suffer from many of the following symptoms: You can expect the student to have difficulty with achievement, spelling, confusion of left and right, math, organizational skills, and following directions. When people with dyslexia write, they sometimes reverse letters or words. A common reversal is with the letters “b” and “d.” Instead of writing or reading the word “bad” they may say or write “dad.”
How to Help
Through many years of teaching, I have noticed that the first and most important way to help individuals with dyslexia is to help them stay organized. They need to know where to find their materials quickly and efficiently. Another important way to help is to be patient. Students with dyslexia have a hard enough time already dealing with their disability, and they need teachers who are extremely patient and willing to take the time to help them. Have students read with their finger guiding their reading; this will help them to keep track of where they are.
Although there is no cure or treatment for dyslexia, those that have it have learned how to live with it. As teachers, what can we do in the classroom?
- Shorten homework assignments
- Allow extra time for testing
- Read tests aloud to students
- Don’t ask them to real aloud unless you know they want to
- If students want to read aloud, give them a copy of the reading to practice beforehand
- Allow students to do some work orally
Parents can help their children by talking to them and finding out what the children's needs are. Parents can also help by being patient with their child. Another good idea is to keep an open dialogue between the parent and teacher to see what strategies and techniques are used in school that could also be used at home.
Sometime when you have nothing to do, try to read an article backward. Put yourself in someone’s shoes who has dyslexia. Ouy yam eb desiprus woh drah ti si!