What is Dyslexia and what can i do as a teacher to help?
MayoClinc says, “Dyslexia is a learning disorder characterized by difficulty reading. Also called specific reading disability, dyslexia is a common learning disability in children. Dyslexia occurs in children with normal vision and intelligence. Sometimes, dyslexia goes undiagnosed for years and isn’t recognized until adulthood.”
I recently received an e-mail from my Aunt asking what I was learning about Dyslexia in my special education courses. The scary answer is nothing.
My cousin was diagnosed with Dyslexia in second grade and he is now in 6th grade. I think Dyslexia gets overlooked too much. So what can we as teachers do to help? I asked my Aunt what helps my cousin the most and with her permission this is what she said.
I would definitely recommend Susan Barton’s webpage – brightsolutions.us . We had our son tested when he was in second grade but they recommend late Kindergarten or early 1st grade. We did the Barton system at home, which I think helped him with his reading but it, was not a fix for everything because he still needs accommodations. [Read more about the Barton reading and spelling program at http://www.bartonreading.com/]
As far as following accommodations, we have to constantly fight with the teachers and administration. The administration is always worried about preparing them for the standardized test and the lack of money in the district. The teacher doesn’t want to vary their curriculum to fit his needs so they say that the accommodations are a “crutch”. One example is when he was going into 5th grade we wanted him to stay in Reading Mastery which is a direct instruction program but we had to put him in Treasures since that would prepare him for the test. I think his special education teacher tries but feels pressured to please administration so it is frustrating to feel like there is no one at the IEP that is on our side. It was so nice when _______ worked for the district because she was knowledgeable about dyslexia and wasn’t afraid to tell the classroom teachers or administration what needed to be done.
His 5th grade teacher was so awesome. When he first started 5th grade, he broke his right arm so his teacher was his scribe. She said that this was probably a blessing in disguise because then she found out how knowledgeable he was. She made sure that she adjusted all the assignments to his level. She was so good at boosting his self-confidence because she was always asking him to share his ideas or telling other students to ask him for help.
I asked him about the computer vs. paper reading. He said he liked it when the font was bigger on the computer and that he could use the prompt to keep his place.
Some of the accommodations that we like are:
Goq software – it helps by suggesting words to type and then it will read back what you wrote so you know if it is correct. http://www.goqsoftware.com/#
Livescribe pen – he hasn’t used one yet but they said it would be helpful for taking notes. http://www.livescribe.com/en-us/smartpen/
Copies of notes – it is really hard for him to copy either from the board or close point copying
Multiplication Tables or Calculator – he can’t remember the addition and multiplication facts
Direct Instruction – he thrives on having the assignment broke down in small chunks
Tests Read to him – it is not that he can’t read the test, it is that reading is so taxing for his brain so he would be exhausted before he finished.
Opportunity to answer orally if the teacher cannot understand the essay answer – explaining themselves on paper is an extremely difficult task because they can’t concentrate on content, spelling, grammar and punctuation at the same time.
No grade reduction for spelling – spelling will never be his best subject so it is good that he doesn’t lose his self-esteem over it
Bookshare.org – this allows him to enjoy books that would be too overwhelming otherwise
No Time Limits – it just takes him longer because of the way his brain is wired
Reduced Homework – if the problems are redundant this helps a lot because of the amount of time it takes him to solve
Check for Understanding – sometimes he thinks he understands the directions when he really doesn’t
There you have it, personal suggestions and tips from a parent.
Please feel free to leave and thoughts or comments you have about this blog or about Dyslexia in general.