It’s dyslexia awareness month! So what better time to learn about dyslexia, a condition that affects learning to read and write for many students.
Learning about Dyslexia:
Experts agree that between 15 to 20 per cent of people worldwide are dyslexic. This means that in the typical classroom of 25 students, it’s very likely that 3 to 4 students will have this language-based learning disability/difference.
For the great majority, dyslexia typically goes unnoticed and undiagnosed, unless the student’s condition is severe. You see, the impacts of dyslexia are different for each person, and it occurs along a continuum of severity.
A student with mild dyslexia may struggle in silence, exhibiting poor spelling in written work, but showing no other obvious signs.
An Official Definition
According to the International Dyslexia Association (IDA), dyslexia is: “A language-based learning disability. Dyslexia refers to a cluster of symptoms, which result in people having difficulties with specific language skills, particularly reading.
“Students with dyslexia usually experience difficulties with other language skills such as spelling, writing, and pronouncing words.
“Dyslexia affects individuals throughout their lives; however, its impact can change at different stages in a person’s life.
“It is referred to as a learning disability because dyslexia can make it very difficult for a student to succeed academically in the typical instructional environment”
Looking for ‘red flags’
It is important for teachers and administrators to be aware of the “red flags” for dyslexia. Take time to learn about the academic and emotional impacts for dyslexic children in the classroom.
Children with dyslexia may present with a multitude of difficulties with oral and written language, including a profound phonological deficit – the ability to connect the sounds of letters to words.
The effects of dyslexia extend well beyond the classroom, affecting a child’s mental and emotional well-being, and self-image well into adulthood. That is why it is so important to do everything we can in the early years of learning to read and write.
Dyslexia often co-occurs with ADHD, or even autism.
Within the classroom, it can affect a child’s ability to organize, keep track of their belongings, memorize and retain math facts, remember/recall words, pronounce multi-syllabic words, and read with enough fluency to comprehend.
Dyslexia has little to do with intelligence. In fact, children with this learning difference often have a high IQ or are gifted and talented in areas such as art, design, problem solving, puzzle solving, drama, physics, business, and sports.
How can teachers help?
The great majority of students with dyslexia will never have their learning issue identified or diagnosed.
Therefore, it is critical for these students that teachers use a structured literacy approach to teach reading and writing in the classroom.
That said, it isn’t just your dyslexic students who will benefit! Almost 60 per cent of all learners struggle to learn to read and write. These students also learn to master these skills more easily using a structured literacy approach.
SAYING THAT ANOTHER WAY! Breaking down the building blocks of reading and writing, using structured literacy, also helps non-dyslexics learn to read better.
About 20 per cent of students who find learning to read ‘easy’ and natural will be unaffected by the method of instruction you use. This is why structured literacy is often described as: Good for all. Essential for some.
Systematic, explicit, multi-sensory instruction using evidence-based teaching practices during Tier 1 instruction is the best thing any of us can do in the classroom to help mitigate reading difficulties and failure for our students.
Happy Dyslexia Awareness month!
For more information on dyslexia visit the IDA website:
Source: International Dyslexia Association