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Helping Students with Dyslexia

written by: Barbara • edited by: Amanda Grove • updated: 7/12/2012

Dyslexia is a learning disability that makes reading and spelling problematic for students struggling to decipher words on a page, a board, a book, or a handout. Reading for students with dyslexia is tough, but can be overcome with instructional strategies designed to engage their brain differently.

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    Reading for Students with Dyslexia

    For beginning readers, the construction of word usage and meaning are on the initial continuum of learning how to read and sound out words. Reading for students with dyslexia is a mind jungle gym of transposed words and meanings or a juxtaposition of consonants and syllables that render the written word utterly meaningless. Reading doesn't happen in a vacuum of luck or as a given in a child's cognitive development. Reading takes work, effort, active engagement and constant connection with the written word in order to establish a foundation of how words connect and form sentences and paragraphs of meaning.

    Students with dyslexia are unable to establish the foundation of reading without intervention support. The steps of reading construct for a student struggling with dyslexia becomes a free fall of frustration. The dyslexic student can't navigate the traditional steps of reading. He/she may have issues with the following items listed below that prevent reading understanding from happening:

    • Have difficulty with understanding the phonics of word sounds or how to spell words
    • Have trouble understanding how written letters grouped together can form words with meaning
    • Have auditory issues in associating sounds with letters and vowels
    • Have comprehension issues with pages of words that become an active jumbling of letters.
    • Provide brain freezes and starts and stops in interpreting word meaning

    Dyslexic students can be the smartest students in the classroom, but the inability to read can make even the smartest student feel less than adequate in the academic arena of reading and spelling.

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    Teacher Strategies to Help Students

    When a student is struggling to learn the phonics of word constructs, it changes their academic playing field. Students may have difficulty transposing words and end up with massive mis-spellings and words rolled into one long nonsensical sentence. Consider the following reading passage presented to a 5th grade student with dyslexia:

    Reading Passage:

    • Actual: In the world of OZ, there was a fairy tale that happened in the land of Wondersville.
    • Dyslexia: Int he worldo fOz, the rew as afairyt aleth ath appened inth landof Wondersville.

    The student with dyslexia will see the actual sentence reading scenario transposed into the dyslexic sentence where words blend together making pronunciation difficulty and the dyslexia sentence incomprehensible.

    Teaching Strategies

    • An effective reading strategy will provide pre and posts diagnostic tests to ascertain the extent of the reading disability.
    • Provide computer software that helps students use phonics or other reading strategies to pronounce the sounds of letters.
    • Have students create flashcards or tapes to hear themselves speak and help them to improve their reading skills
    • Provide instructional tutorial support to insure that students with dyslexia are given additional reading instruction and support
    • Give extra time on tests and homework assignments to insure that students can process their learning and show what they actually know

    With effective teacher and instructional support, students with dyslexia can get help in improving reading skills and learn that reading can be fun and informative given the right toolkit.

    Source: author authentic experience