What is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a learning difference or disability that makes reading difficult. People with dyslexia have trouble matching the letters they see on the page with the sounds those letters and combinations of letters make.
Reading is complex. It requires our brains to connect letters to sounds, put those sounds in the right order, and pull the words together into sentences and paragraphs we can read and comprehend.
When people with dyslexia have trouble matching letters with sounds, all of the other steps become harder. Children and adults with dyslexia have many challenges including struggling to read fluently, spelling words correctly, and learning a second language. However, these difficulties have no correlation to their intelligence. While people with dyslexia are slow readers, they are often fast and creative thinkers with strong reasoning skills.
Dyslexia is very common, affecting around 20 percent of the population or 1 out of every 5 people, and represents 80-90 percent of all those with learning disabilities. Dyslexia is a lifelong disability and it cannot be cured. With the correct support, dyslexic individuals can become highly successful students and adults.
Signs of Dyslexia:
The signs of dyslexia can appear as early as preschool. The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity is a great resource to find out more about dyslexia and the signs of dyslexia. Here is a link to their Signs of Dyslexia page: http://dyslexia.yale.edu/dyslexia/signs-of-dyslexia/
Use the Word Dyslexia
Once a diagnosis of dyslexia has been confirmed, it is important that the word “dyslexia” be used by teachers, administrators, parents, and anyone on the student’s support team. There are many schools that do not use the term, and sometimes parents avoid it because they do not want their child labeled. Some use the category of “Specific Learning Disability” instead of dyslexia. But the child’s support services are required to be uniquely tailored to their needs, thus why using the word dyslexia is so important. Dr. Sally Shaywitz says, “This greater awareness and understanding of dyslexia and its impact will benefit both teacher and student, both in the teaching of reading and in the climate and attitudes within the classroom.”
For those with dyslexia, knowing that they are dyslexic provides direction and a starting point for self-advocacy and accommodations. It helps them feel that they are not alone. They are part of a community of dyslexics who have similar struggles. They can look to other people with dyslexia who are succeeding and know that they can do the same. Rather than assuming they are stupid or lazy, they develop greater self-awareness about the specific challenges they face and what they can do to succeed. In school and later in the workplace they can learn to identify and use their strengths, bring their best assets to the job, know what tasks to delegate and when to allow themselves a little extra time.
South La Porte County Special Education Cooperative
Paula J. Nichols, Director of Special Education for South La Porte County Special Education Cooperative said these following requirements went into effect in the 2019-2020 school year. The school’s reading plan shall include indicators to screen for risk factors of dyslexia. The screenings shall include:
- Phonological and phonemic awareness
- Sound symbol recognition
- Alphabet knowledge
- Decoding skills
- Rapid naming skills
- Encoding skills
Each of the five districts in La Porte County that are served by South La Porte County Special Education Cooperative has a Dyslexia Coordinator/Specialist who oversees the screening process. In 2019-2020 the schools screened K-2 students in the month of October. Students will be screened annually.
How You Can Help!
- Listen to a child’s feelings. Language concerns can often make it difficult for a child or adult to express their feelings.
- Reward effort, not just the product. Grades are less important than progress.
- When confronting academic struggles or behavioral struggles associated with dyslexia avoid discouraging the child with negative words. Encourage a positive self-image.
- Help a child set realistic goals. Help a child set attainable goals so there is not a cycle of failure, but one of success.
Accommodations to Help a Student Succeed
- Clarify or simplify written instructions- underline or highlight the significant parts of the instruction. Help them rewrite the directions… provide more than one modality of learning.
- Present a small amount of work- tear pages from workbooks and materials to present small assignments to students who are anxious about the amount of work—chunk the assignment.
- Block out extraneous stimuli- use a blank sheet of paper to cover sections of the page, use line markers, to aid reading and windows to display individual math problems, larger font, and increasing spacing can also help.
- Highlight essential information
- Use a placeholder in consumable material
- Provide additional practice materials
- Provide a glossary of terms in content areas
- Develop reading guides
- Use an audio recording device
- Use of assistive technology—tablets, electronic readers, text to speech, audiobooks
- Repeat instructions or have the student repeat the instructions in their own words
- Maintain daily routines
- Provide a copy of the notes
- Graphic organizer
- Step by step instructions
On October 13th at 5:00pm the library will be hosting a 6 Tips @ 6pm online discussing dyslexia. In this 6 Tips episode gain a better understanding of dyslexia and options for screening, and learn about tools available through the library that supports reading.
To get to this event go to: https://laporte.libnet.info/event/4638025
On October 13th at 5:00pm click on the 6 Tips @ 6-Dyslexia Awareness link on the events page and you can watch the video.
Can’t attend? Find the recording along with previous 6 Tips @ 6 weekly episodes on the Library’s YouTube channel after the event by clicking on this link: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLJxyY-s5iuYH0myqgqWT1oHJnketzSAXD