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Students with dyslexia experience varying degrees of difficulty with reading, spelling, and listening.

This is commonly thought to be due to differences in brain development, but it is also influenced by the type of instruction a dyslexic student receives.

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Students with dyslexia in the classroom

Dyslexic students are often very intelligent, but the affliction impedes learning. Teachers who have students with dyslexia in the classroom can have an enormous positive influence on the educational success of dyslexic students.

What is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a learning disorder or disability. It has a neurological origin, meaning the problem stems from the brain. Dyslexia is characterized by poor spelling, inability to focus, and inability to recognize words and/or letters. The resulting consequences include trouble with reading comprehension and an unsatisfactory reading experience that severely impacts the person’s ability to learn and/or retain information.

Dyslexia can also prevent or impede the normal expansion of vocabulary over time.

What causes dyslexia?

It is not exactly known what the specific cause of dyslexia is. However, brain imagery research has revealed striking differences in how a dyslexic person develops and functions compared to someone who does not exhibit dyslexia symptoms.

Further, demographic and geographic differences do not impact the prevalence of dyslexia. People from all kinds of backgrounds and intelligence levels have been known to have dyslexia. However, it has been discovered that dyslexia tends to run in families, indicating that some hereditary factors could be involved.

It’s very important to recognize that dyslexia has no bearing on a person’s intelligence level. Dyslexic people can be very intelligent. Successful people with dyslexia work in various challenging industries, including science, mathematics, mechanics, physics, entertainment, and sports.

What are the challenges of dyslexic students?

The impact of dyslexia on students can range according to the individual, the severity of dyslexia, and how well the student has learned to cope with their condition. Some of the challenges that dyslexic students have revolve around retaining information that is spoken, being able to express themselves eloquently, being able to read fluently, and being able to comprehend things that have just been read.

In addition, dyslexic students may be easily distracted by extraneous stimuli or have trouble concentrating.

Signs and symptoms of dyslexia

Teachers can be very helpful in identifying signs and symptoms of dyslexia in students. This information can help parents and doctors identify the areas in which the student is struggling. Some of the typical signs and symptoms of dyslexia include:

  • Difficulty with simple counting
  • Difficulty rhyming simple words, such as cat and fat
  • Trouble recognizing words that all begin with the same letter
  • Difficulty pronouncing words or numbers
  • Inability to clap in time to a song
  • Difficulty coming up with the right word to describe something
  • Difficulty following spoken directions
  • The trouble with short-term memory recall

Accommodations involving learning materials

Materials are a large part of the learning environment. Students interact with learning materials for a generous portion of the school day. However, the vast majority of instructional materials offer little flexibility for teachers to engage a classroom of students with varying learning aptitudes, much less the ability to teach students with dyslexia.

By making simple accommodations involving learning materials, teachers can make learning easier for everyone, including students with dyslexia.

Highlight or condense written instructions

Many learning materials have a paragraph or more written instructions, which can intimidate or confuse dyslexic students. When this occurs, teachers can physically highlight or underline the pertinent points or even rewrite the written instructions into a condensed form.

Break work down Into manageable bites

Workbooks that contain an entire semester’s workload are often used in the classroom. This can be intimidating to students with dyslexia. Teachers can help not pass out the workbooks. Instead, make 3-ring binders or folders for each student. Tear out the relevant workbook sheets, so students are faced with just one sheet of paper instead of an entire workbook. The sheets go back into the binder or folder as students hand in work. This reduces stress and anxiety for dyslexic students and helps to keep them from becoming discouraged.

Highlight important information

If a book is assigned for reading, the dyslexic student may feel it will be impossible to read and retain. The teacher of students with dyslexia in the classroom can help by going through the book and highlighting paragraphs or chapters that contain only the essential information that the student needs to absorb.

Block out stimuli

Dyslexic students are easily distracted by stimuli, which prevents them from concentrating as they should. Teachers can help by blocking out stimuli on worksheets and other learning materials by tapping a sheet of white paper over extraneous images and text or cutting off those sections entirely with scissors.

Accommodations involving instruction

The challenge for a teacher of one or more students with dyslexia is getting and keeping their attention during classroom instruction. Likewise, verbal instruction is difficult for the dyslexic student to grasp. Here are some ways that teachers can bridge the gap.

Simplify instructions

When speaking instructions to the classroom, use abbreviated sentences that are instructional and straight to the point. For example, instead of saying, “Okay, class, now we’re going to begin studying history, so I need you to take out your history books and open them to page 121,” you could say, “Please take out your history books. Place them on your desk. Open the book to page 121.”

Short sentences like these are much easier for dyslexic students to follow.

Repeat instructions

Dyslexic students are easily overwhelmed by instructions, especially if they think they are the only student who doesn’t understand them. Teachers with dyslexic students can help by repeating instructions. Try to state the instructions slightly slower the second time. Another strategy is to have the students repeat the instructions to the teacher. Stating the instructions aloud helps students to remember them.

Maintain routines

Dyslexic students often experience frustration, particularly if they were expecting one thing to happen and then something different occurred. Teachers can help students with dyslexia avoid this frustration by maintaining daily routines. This introduces reliable structure into the classroom environment that dyslexic students can cling to.

Write key points on the chalkboard or whiteboard

Another common source of frustration for dyslexic students is feeling like they are missing the point of the lesson. Teachers can help by writing key points and takeaways on the whiteboard or chalkboard before the lesson begins. This helps dyslexic students listen for when those key points are mentioned and refer back to them as they try to memorize.

As stated, teachers play an integral role in helping students with dyslexia to succeed in the classroom. The influence of the teachers’ method, strategy, and patience will go a long way toward helping dyslexic students feel less frustrated and have more dignity and confidence in the learning environment. Teaching students with dyslexia often requires the use of specialized teaching materials.