One of the most common learning disabilities, and yet one of the least known in India, Dyslexia affects between 5%-12% of all students across the world. It is a special kind of learning difficulty that primarily affects the ability to identify, read, and spell words.
For those who are unaware, Dyslexia is generally considered inherited. It is more common in males than females. Dyslexia is associated with a neuro-cognitive deficit but can result in anguish, trauma, poor self-confidence, and even isolation either because of their own discomfort or the abuse they might face from their peers in a school environment.
As a parent or teacher, it can seem overwhelming and confusing at the same time when helping a dyslexic child cope up, especially when you do not have the right Dyslexia resources for educating. Do understand that little children are the most vibrant and motivated to learn.
A dyslexic child usually has a normal or above-normal IQ and is equally bright and capable as the rest of the class, can articulate their thoughts and participate in classroom discussions as well, but only takes longer to process and develop the skills of reading and writing compared to their peers.
With the ever-increasing need for education and literacy in today’s world, it is important, as a parent or teacher, to understand the exact needs of a dyslexic child and modify your approach accordingly. In this brief guide, we have enumerated some of the most effective ways and resources to alleviate your child’s learning experience without leaving them feeling uncomfortable.
According to the International Dyslexia Association, any dyslexia intervention approach should be:
Systematic and Cumulative
Structured Literacy instruction is systematic and cumulative. Systematic means that the organization of material follows the logical order of the language. The sequence must begin with the easiest and most basic concepts and elements and progress methodically to more difficult concepts and elements. Cumulative means each step must be based on concepts previously learned.
Structured Literacy instruction requires the deliberate teaching of all concepts with continuous student-teacher interaction. It is not assumed that students will naturally deduce these concepts on their own.
The teacher must be adept at individualized instruction. That is instruction that meets a student’s needs. The instruction is based on careful and continuous assessment, both informally (for example, observation) and formally (for example, with standardized measures. The content presented must be mastered to the degree of automaticity. Automaticity is critical to freeing all the student’s attention and cognitive resources for comprehension and expression.
#2 Keeping Instructions Simple
The inability to comprehend complicated instructions that require several steps to remember, and follow is one of the most prevalent symptoms of dyslexia. Make sure you are giving the child straightforward, single-step instructions. This makes things simpler for a dyslexic child to understand. Always provide written instructions that can be referred to and keep your instructions succinct.
Make sure, though, that you are not leaving them to falter around in their confusion like a lost fish. Encourage their participation and involvement. Regularly communicate with them in case they require your assistance or if you like to provide them with feedback right away. Before continuing with the next steps, make sure they have absorbed the last instruction you gave them to instil in them a sense of confidence.
The brain is not a muscle, thus exercising it repetitively will do nothing to make it bigger or stronger or free from dyslexia. Understand that dyslexia cannot be cured. However, with intensive, systematic intervention (the earlier the better) children can make great strides with their reading and spelling skills.
Additionally, it is better to avoid the idea that “practice makes a man perfect” because practice with the goal of perfection can place undue pressure on a dyslexic child.
Having said that, consistent practice does make a difference even though it may not be a cure.
The youngster gradually gains positive self-esteem as learning impediments are removed.
Additionally, you can give the child quick assignments and exercises even if you don’t want to overburden them with it because they are typically more exhausted after school than other peers. Frequent, small homework exercises can boost their confidence as they attain a sense of accomplishment every day.
A kid who struggles in the basics of the classroom – reading, writing, and maths problems – frequently feels incompetent when compared to other classmates. When dyslexics fail, they are more likely to internalize the idea of failing. For some subjects, these negative experiences might create lifetime learning obstacles. The dyslexic may act out in order to cope with academic failure and risk expulsion from school.
This is where it becomes important for the parent or teacher to help the dyslexic child through academic, social, and emotional support. Try to explore together with the child where their strengths, hobbies, and interests lie, and help them nurture these skills so that they can build a positive self-image.
Let them know how proud you are when they make progress and communicate the same with their parents or teachers. Highlight their achievements, be it a work of art, winning at a game, or a recital, in front of the whole class to boost their morale up further.
At the same time, help them cope with their failures. Give them referrals for assessment in case they are unable to read. Read aloud to them when helping them overcome their fear of reading. Never call them before other classmates to read aloud unless they volunteer to. Time is the best gift you can give them – refrain from timed tests and give them full freedom to pursue their reading/ writing/ maths practice. Make sure you let them know how happy you are with the effort they are putting in.
There are several innovative strategies you can adopt as a parent or teacher to support dyslexic children and boost their academic performance. For pupils who struggle to express their ideas in writing properly, graphic organisers are a great option. Make sure the entire class is using these well-designed visual organisers so that you don’t leave the dyslexic child feeling the odd one out.
The use of speech-to-text software has become increasingly common and can help children put their ideas down on paper without having to worry about handwriting or spelling errors. They might find this an interesting way of learning spellings, developing a practice of reading and writing with some additional support.
When it comes to maths, using graph paper can greatly enhance the learning process for dyslexic children. Since many of these pupils have trouble aligning numbers correctly, the graph paper can be used to their advantage. Also investigate other approaches to teaching maths, such as using music to assist students comprehend numbers, rhythms, and other concepts. In order to facilitate reference and review, include important phrases on a card index system or on the inside cover of the student’s maths textbook. Put a red comma after the decimal point. The dyslexic child will benefit from improved visual perception.
Messages and regular classroom exercises should always be communicated in writing rather than verbally, even when it is for sports or music. Help the child develop a sense of freedom and responsibility by inculcating habits of daily checklists, schedules, folders and organisers to help them remember and organise tasks easily.
When in class, if there is a lot of written material on the board, use a different colour of chalk for each line or underline every other line. Make careful to leave the writing on the blackboard for a sufficient amount of time to prevent rushing or the work being removed from the board before the child has finished copying.
A brief list of structure-based words for their weekly spelling test will be much more beneficial than random words. Each week, three or four irregular words can be added; over time, this should let them write more freely.
Explore How You Can Support A Dyslexic Child with These Learning Modules
TrueLiteracy aims to enhance literacy teaching and learning for educators, parents, and other learning experts, no matter what their need. Our Dyslexia Training Program offers the right knowledge and tools needed to assist parents and teachers in better understanding how to cater to the specific requirements of dyslexic pupils. Also, feel free to explore the SuperDVille video-based module designed for social and emotional learning. This module has been developed to increase academic performance, encourage positive attitudes, and improve student behaviour.
Apart from the extensive list of carefully designed and well-researched learning modules, you can also directly contact literacy specialists, such as Dyslexia Training Program by inventor Dr Michael Hart, to understand how to cope with dyslexic children better and support them in their improvement journey. Also, you can enjoy direct access to a network of peers who share your interests via our professional learning communities.
Explore more by visiting the TrueLiteracy website or get in touch with our in-house expert to understand what all our training program has to offer.