Strategies for Assisting Students with Dyslexia

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Dyslexia is a common learning disability that can results in difficulty reading. There are several resources for school-based professionals to utilize in order to assist students coping with dyslexia. There is no cure for dyslexia however there are strategies that school-based professionals can use to assist students with. We have included a few of those recommended strategies below along with a more in-depth look at dyslexia and the impact that it can have on students.

What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a learning disorder that causes difficulty reading. This common learning disability affects the area of the brain that processes language and impacts a student’s ability to read, spell, write and speak. Children who have dyslexia usually have normal vision as well as typical intelligence. Dyslexia is not specific to students who speak English, as dyslexia has been identified in many languages around the world.  Children with speech and language delays may also present with dyslexia and it is important for speech and language pathologists to be aware of their unique needs.

Supporting a Student with Dyslexia 

While there is no cure for Dyslexia, there are ways for individuals to learn strategies to support their reading development. That is where Dyslexia Therapy serves as a solution. Dyslexia therapy provides a way to help others better understand the social and emotional connections to students with dyslexia in order to effectively work with students experiencing difficulties due to dyslexia. When a teacher has this degree or certification, they will become a go to for classroom teachers that need support with strategies, tips and tools for dyslexic students. More importantly, these professionals will know more about Multisensory Structured Language Teaching, which has large benefits for individuals with this diagnosis.  In additional to this, these teachers will be better equipped to assist in identifying students with dyslexia via screening and evaluations. School districts may look for this from future candidates to helps with their needs.

Common Characteristics of Dyslexia

If you are working with a student who has been diagnosed with dyslexia, there are certain characteristics that may impact your intervention.  If you are working with a student who hasn’t been diagnosed, but is struggling in these areas, consider whether you need to make a referral.

Elementary School Levels

  • Mispronounces words (for example: saying “beddy tear” instead of “teddy bear”)
  • Has difficulty remembering common songs or nursey rhymes
  • Struggles to remember sequences such as the alphabet song
  • Uses general words like “thing” and “stuff” to identify familiar objects
  • Has trouble learning letter names as well as remembering the sounds that they make
  • Can confuse letters and the sounds that they make with similar sounds (such as d and t)
  • Struggles with reading familiar words such as “dog”
  • Experiences confusion or skips over small words in sentences such as “the” or “of”
  • Struggles to sound out new words
  • Repeatedly makes the same mistakes such as reversing letters
  • Has difficulty telling time and managing time

Middle & High School Levels

  • Reads, writes and speaks at a slow pace
  • Struggles to understand puns and idioms
  • Hard time remembering common abbreviations
  • Takes a longer amount of time to complete reading assignments
  • Frequently makes spelling, grammar and punctuation errors

Accommodations for Students with Dyslexia

There are several proactive solutions that you can implement, in order to provide a successful learning environment for students with dyslexia. Take a look at the list below for ideas on how to support them.

Provide multi-sensory based activities

  • Use whole body movements like clapping when working on phonological awareness and articulation therapy tasks.
  • Use tactile materials to write words and sentences – use materials such as beads, glitter glue, paint, etc.
  • Use visual cues and games like scavenger hunts to help them make connections between new vocabulary words and printed words.

Supporting students with dyslexia in the therapy room

  • Provide extra time for students when print and writing are being used to support speech and language intervention goals.
  • When doing a worksheet activity, use a large-print text option.
  • Provide a reading strip to help students focus on each line and not get distracted by the length of the text.
  • Offer extra time for students to complete reading and writing tasks.
  • Reduce clutter or unnecessary items on table.
  • Highlight important information. Use highlighters to help the student focus on the key elements of text.
  • Use audio recordings to help with notetaking and look for audio books to help the student focus on comprehension of text.

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has several resources to help support SLPs who work with students with learning disabilities. Follow the links below for more information.

ASHA Evidence Maps on Written Language Disorders for School-Age Disorders

ASHA’s Position Statement on Reading and Written Language Disorders

Written Language Disorders Practice Portal

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