There isn’t a precise definition of what dyslexia actually is, according to Dianne Craft, an experienced special educator, on her website diannecraft.org. Some say it is a “language processing problem that involves the distinguishing of sounds of letters—this is why the struggling reader cannot remember phonics sounds to decode a word. Others believe that it is a visual/perceptual problem since these children reverse words laterally (b/d) and vertically (m/w) as well as scrambling letters (“the” = “het”) when they read and write.” She also thinks it’s a visual/motor (eye/hand) problem.
Since the brain is divided into the left and right hemispheres, a person with dyslexia has to deal with processes that the right side is supposed to handle, like writing, and letter identification, still being in the left side of the brain. The degree of the problem that a person has with these types of processing determines whether there is an actual diagnosis of dyslexia.
There are several forms of therapy and different types of tools available to help dyslexic individuals. If you are a dyslexic educator, a teacher with a dyslexic student in class, or a parent with a dyslexic child, you can utilize technology to help dyslexic individuals. For example, Yale University’s Center for Dyslexia and Creativity has a list of technology tools, like the LiveScribe Smartpen that uses a camera to take pictures of your notes and also records whatever the teacher is saying.
Here are some other tips for teachers of dyslexic students from Dyslexia Victoria’s website:
1.) Put two lines and a dotted line under each question so dyslexic students can practice learning how to use space on the page.
2.) When teaching someone with dyslexia how to spell a word, use a drawn or printed image of the whole word, not separate parts of it or its phonetic sounds.
3.) Teach a lesson in one session with a big-picture view of it and why it’s important. Follow with more detailed lessons.
4.) Use a “dyslexia-friendly” spelling and reading program to develop a vocabulary on level with material being read in class to avoid decoding words all the time.
5.) Teach students to write by teaching them about the structure of what they’re writing. Use mind maps or similar techniques to help them see the details.
6.) Give dyslexic students a step-by-step guide to how they are to complete an assignment if it requires completion of multiple parts.
7.) Use drawings of the items in a math word problem to help them solve the more abstract ones.
L. Hughes-Page, M.Ed.
L. Hughes Page is a Field Supervisor to student teachers in the Graduate Department of Education at Gwynedd Mercy University.