Dyslexia is a very common learning difficulty, affecting around 1 in 10 people in the UK. Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty not a learning disability meaning that it has no affect on a person’s intelligence but instead just means a difference in the way they process and understand information. Dyslexia focuses on a person’s ability in literacy i.e. reading, writing and spelling but has a number of different intricacies that affect people differently.
A child with dyslexia may:
Have a smaller vocabulary than other children of the same age
Have difficulties learning days of the week or telling the time
read slowly and confuse the order of letters in words and words in sentences
put letters the wrong way round (particularly b and d)
have poor or inconsistent spelling even of simple words
understand information when told verbally, but have difficulty with information that's written down
find it hard to remember facts or carry out a sequence of directions especially if they are lengthy or given in quick succession
have trouble hearing rhymes
have trouble when learning phonics, sounding out and blending as it will be difficult for the to make the connections between sounds and words
have some difficulties with fine motor control
struggle with planning and organisation
go off on tangents and lose focus when writing
confuse left and right
struggle with communication meaning they may not always correctly interpret body language
It is important for teachers and teaching assistants to understand the different signs and symptoms associated with dyslexia so that the necessary adjustments and accommodations can be made. The following are some examples of simple methods that can be used to support children in your class with dyslexia.
Use a Multi-sensory Approach
Multi-sensory learning involves using two or more of the senses during teaching and learning. This is a very effective approach for children with dyslexia. Most lessons have a heavy emphasis on auditory and visual however many dyslexic children may have trouble processing this type of information. There are many ways that all the sense can be used in teaching the need for which is supported by Howard Gardiner’s theory of multiple intelligences. He theorises that people have the capacity for various kinds of intelligence including linguistic-verbal, logical-mathematical, visual-spatial, kinaesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal and naturalistic.
Engage their Interests
Dyslexic students are often not enthused by reading due to the difficulties involved and it is therefore important to find books which interest and excite them. To do this thy should be given choice over their reading books.
Give Extra Time
This is particularly important in tasks that involve reading, writing and spelling. This would be flexible with each different case as some children would need more time that others. However it is not fair to expect that a child with dyslexia could read or write something at the same pace as a non dyslexic child.
At the end of each lesson provide a short succinct summary which will allow children to go over the key points in their minds and make sure they understand. It will also help them to find anything that they may have missed or misunderstood.
Break down Tasks
As previously stated dyslexic children may find it hard to retain facts and sequences of instructions therefore it can be a simple yet very beneficial strategy to break tasks down into smaller elements making it less overwhelming. This could mean creating step by step instructions or using a voice recorder for each individual instruction.
Teach in Smaller Groups
When possible, teaching in a smaller group means that the adult is able to better notice when the child may be falling behind and means that the child is more easily able to ask questions when they do not understand.
Not as a replacement for physical books but listening to a story be read to them on audio book can be a really great way to get dyslexic children more enthused by books as they are able to focus just on their enjoyment and comprehension of the story rather than decoding. It will also help develop their vocabulary.
Pairing a dyslexic child with a competent reader can be beneficial as it means instant support with reading for the dyslexic child with decoding or pronunciation or even comprehension. This can help to make reading tasks seem less daunting.
Don’t’ ask them to read out loud
If a child feels under pressure to read this will make them feel stressed and then if they make mistakes they might feel embarrassed and increase any negative feelings they have about reading.
While writing is an important skill to learn and practice, the use of a computer can be so encouraging and helpful to a child with dyslexia as it has in built spell checker and grammar ands punctuation support.