Dyslexia is the hot topic in education around the globe, and it is frequently featured in educational conferences, news articles, YouTube videos, and even movies. New estimates suggest that as many as 1 in 10 children have this difficulty, making it the most common type of learning disability.
Many Individuals with Dyslexia Remain Undiagnosed
Although dyslexia is common, many with this condition remain undiagnosed. Furthermore, many others who have received this diagnosis don’t fully understand it and never receive the needed remediation. So, how can we help this underserved population?
Here are some suggestions:
1. Because black text on a white background can be visually uncomfortable for many with dyslexia, provide them the option of using color overlays.
You can make your own overlays by taking transparent, colorful pocket folders or report covers and slicing them into strips that can also be used as bookmarks. You can get a selection of tinted glasses that your students can use on sites like Amazon.com. The most popular color seems to be yellow.
2. Similarly, if changing the color of the background is helpful for reading, it is likely that your learners will also benefit from changing the background color when typing. On a Mac, using Word, this can be done by clicking on the Format drop down menu, and then selecting background. Here you can select another background color.
Please note, this will not impact the background when printing documents. On a PC, this can be done by selecting the drop down menu, Page Layout, then Page Color.
3. Play search games with letters and words that are challenging. For example, if a learner is having trouble discriminating between the letters "b" and "d," give them a magazine, newspaper or other print out and have them circle all the "bs."
They don’t have to be able to read the text; they will just be searching for the designated letter or word. If you instruct a student to scan one line at a time, you will also be strengthening his or her tracking skills.
4. Purchase a book of jokes, or find some on the internet. Go through each joke and talk about what makes it funny. Discuss double meanings, and make a list of words that have multiple meanings. Finally, encourage the learner to make their own joke book.
5. If spelling is a real problem, make a list of the student's commonly misspelled words. Use a notebook and place one word on each page. Have fun coming up with memory strategies that will help the learner remember the correct spelling. For example, if a student is having difficulty with the word “together,” he or she may notice that the word is made up of three simple words – to, get and her.
As another example, one may notice that the word “what” has the word "hat" in it. The student might draw many hats in their notebook and then write down the question, “What hat?”
6. Play fun, free internet games and videos that review basic phonics, such as Star Fall, Phonics Chant 2 and Magic E.
7. Make difficult letters, numbers and words with the learner out of wet spaghetti, pebbles, raisins, pipe cleaners, a sand tray, shaving cream, or clay. You can also place challenging letters, numbers or words on a ball or a balloon and play catch. Every time a participant catches the ball or balloon, he or she reads the first symbol or word seen. Integrating a tactile and kinesthetic modality into lessons will make them more enjoyable and memorable.
8. Use books on tape or read aloud. While listening, ask the learners to close their eyes so they can image the story in their head. Many learners with dyslexia never fully develop their capacity to envision or visualize a story, because reading is so mentally overwhelming.
Helping these learners to develop the ability to utilize their mind’s eye aids in reading comprehension and memory. Another option is to have the learner read along, so they can begin to see and recognize whole words and phrases. A two great organizations that offers books on tape for struggling readers are Bookshare and Learning Ally.
9. Have fun creating a special reading area. Make sure to come up with a fun name for this place, such as "the book nook." Decorate it together. You can fill it with pillows, stuffed animals, blankets and other comforting objects.
You can hang drapes around it, get a large bean bag, hide it under a tall table, or build it around an indoor chair swing or hammock. Have books, highlighters, colored pencils and paper within reach.
10. Create a consistent time every few days where the whole family grabs a book and reads. All family members should congregate and read in a common room. Make sure to have munchies and other comforting objects at hand. This is a time to relax and enjoy the company of one another, so make this a cherished and special time.
If you are interested in purchasing some products that help students with dyslexia, consider downloading a free sample of Dr. Warren’s Reversing Reversals, Following Directions, Making Inferences the Fun and Easy Way, or Reading Games.
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator, and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning. She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Learning Specialist Courses.
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