Welcome to Part III of our Dyslexia 101 series. Over the next few weeks, our blog series will continue to focus on expanding your understanding of dyslexia.
By the end of LD Expert's Dyslexia 101 series you will be able to:
Define dyslexia in a way that friends, family, and teachers can understand.
Understand common characteristics of dyslexia.
Understand how the common characteristics may impact students in the classroom and adults in the workplace.
Recognize common misconceptions and learn the facts that dispel them.
Understand what quality intervention looks like and describe why it is important that children have access to and receive early, evidence-based intervention services.
Advocate for your child at school or for yourself in the workplace
Today we will focus on the implications dyslexia may have in the classroom and workplace.
It's important to note that dyslexia is not the only language-based learning difference. These implications can apply to any student or adult that has a language-based learning difference.
In Part I of this blog series, we broke down the definition of dyslexia for you. In Part II, we examined the characteristics of dyslexia by outlining common struggles and strengths.
Part III of our Dyslexia 101 series will focus on the implications, or the effects, you may see as a result of the struggles and strengths associated with dyslexia.
We will focus on two different areas :
Unfortunately, general education classroom teachers are given little to no training on identifying the warning signs of a possible learning difference - let alone any training or instruction specific to dyslexia.
If you are a classroom teacher who can relate to this, we highly recommend completing Made by Dyslexia's FREE Teacher Training Course. In this two part course, you will learn to "spot, support, and empower the dyslexic learner" in addition to "WHAT to teach, WHY it helps and HOW to do it."
Implications of Dyslexia in the Classroom
Some of the things you may see in students with dyslexia as a teacher or parent...
Difficulty with executive functioning skills such as organization, concentration, or following multi-step directions
Students' folders and binders may be a mess with papers sticking out everywhere, with backpacks filled with never-turned-in-homework, or they may do the first part of an assignment but not finish it.
Reversal of letters such a "b", "d", "p", and "q" and numbers such as "7", "4", "5", and "9"
Many teachers are told this is normal, but it is not developmentally normal after the age of 6.
Reading the first and last part of a word before making up the middle to turn it into a familiar vocabulary word (e.g. a student will read "imperfect" as "infect")
Experiencing extreme anxiety related to reading aloud in front of peers
Generally avoiding reading and phonics based activities
Performing poorly on tests, especially when they are multiple choice tests, resulting in scores that do not reflect their classroom participation or what they actually have learned
Taking longer to copy from the board
Students may frequently need to look back and forth from the board to their paper and they may only copy a couple letters or numbers at a time
Because of students' potential anxiety and difficulty with executive functioning skills, combined with their learning difference(s), you may see behavioral issues. This can look like avoidance, arriving unprepared or without materials, missing assignments, or a disrespectful attitude towards school activities.
Remember, this could be ALL be related to reading struggles! Kids don't want to be the "bad" or challenging kid!
An affinity for math or classes that allow for creative or non-writing related forms of expression
A tendency to prefer to express themselves verbally with an increased ability to demonstrate their understanding of material when allowed to discuss it aloud
Some classroom accommodations that can help students are...
Build time into your day to organize materials.
Begin the day with 5-minutes of assisting students while they go through their assignment books from the previous day.
Make sure that students have all of the homework and materials they need for the day.
End the day with another 5-minute window where you assist students by going through their assignment books.
Help make sure that they have everything they need for homework.
Make reading aloud optional, or assign specific passages to students to practice before having to read them aloud
If you have a student that jokes, misbehaves, or actively avoids reading aloud, this may be related to a reading difficulty.
Use a multi-sensory, explicit, and sequential approach to phonics for whole class instruction
Prepare guided or skeleton notes that require students to fill-in one word here and there to minimize copying from the board
Make plans to offer assistive technology such as text-to-speech for independent work activities
We love Read&Write extension for Chrome!
Do not wait to refer students to your school Special Education department for evaluations.
Early intervention makes ALL the difference! Trust your gut and trust your mama bears when they tell you they're concerned about their student!
Implications of Dyslexia in the Workplace
Some things you may experience as an employee or notice as an employer...
Disorganized desk or work materials
Difficulty managing a schedule and/or keeping track of multiple appointments or projects
The need for more time to read through memos, emails and training materials as well as the need for additional time when completing projects
Difficulty studying and organizing materials for required trainings, projects or assessments
Trouble taking notes quickly during meetings which can make it difficult to focus on the meeting material as the conversation moves forward
Increased creativity with projects that require future or artistic vision
The ability to see the big picture related to projects
Sophisticated spoken vocabulary
Emails may not match/reflect this same vocabulary or emails may be avoided with a preference to talk by phone or in person
The ability to be exceptionally empathetic
Some accommodations that can help adults in the workplace are...
Integration of assistive technology into the work day, such as calendar reminders and speech-to-text & text-to-speech apps
Explicit deadlines that allow time for another person to proof read for spelling errors
Provide a study-buddy or an additional document that outlines the most important concepts on which to focus for projects or assessments
Provide daily, weekly, or monthly graphic organizers that help to organize and prioritize tasks
Completing this with a supervisor can even build relationships!
Delegate the task of taking meeting notes to one person and share the notes after the meeting with the team
It is important to note that people with dyslexia often choose career in a field of great interest to them. This allows them to be motivated and perform at high levels because of their ability to persevere and channel their creativity. A large number of the most successful entrepreneurs have dyslexia, and they view their learning difference as their super power that helped drive their success!
We cannot overstate how much we love Drs. Shaywitz book, Overcoming Dyslexia. It is the Gold Standard when it comes to books to help you understand and navigate life with dyslexia that is based on years of research. Here's the link again to purchase!