I’m a teacher. What should I know about dyslexia?

Alphabet inside of men's heads face to face contrasting order and chaosTeachers can be in contact throughout their career with countless pupils with Special Educational Needs, and some of them will be more frequently found in the classroom than others. This is the case with dislexia, which can be found in 1 in every 25 students according to some researchers.

What is it about?

Dyslexia is a learning disability where the child’s ability to read or write is located below his/her level of intelligence. It is caused by an impediment of the brain pertaining to the capacity of seeing the words. However, this issue is not related to intelligence. Nowadays, there is a inclination to use dyslexia with any problems in reading.

Symptoms

To make dyslexia clear, you will find below some of the more frequent characteristics of people with dyslexia:

  • Reverse words totally or partially, such as was/saw.
  • Reverse letters, such as “p” with “b” or “d” for “b”. Often they reverse letters even when they know the spelling of the word.
  • Reading can be a difficult task because they can’t tell apart certain letters or they confuse them mentally.
  • They write the same word in different ways.
  • It is difficult to see that a word is misspelled.
  • Odd spelling mistakes happen.
  • They copy the words wrong even when they are looking at the correct spelling.
  • They have difficulty distinguishing left from right.

Dyslexia is often confused with a lack of evolutionary maturity. So I advise to think about it more often when we get some problems with our students’ reading. Anyway, don’t panic too much now thinking that even you may be dyslexic. I remember myself when I was a child mixing up “A” and “4”, which make me see letters in the calculator or number between some words; and I was not dyslexic! Just because you have a few of the symptoms, it doesn’t mean that you are dyslexic.

Is dyslexia for life?

There is some controversy over this point. Some think that dyslexia is a condition which lasts a
lifetime, but can be minimised with the right treatment.  Others, however, think it can be ‘cured’.  Regardless, both agree that with appropriate support, children with dyslexia can learn to read and write well. So the sooner the rehabilitation work is started, the lower the impact.

Is dyslexia linked to other disorders?

Yes, dyslexia is linked to other problems of learning sometimes, such as:

  • Dysgraphia: difficulties in the correct layout of the letters in the parallelism of the lines, the size of the letters and the pressure of writing …
  • Dysorthography: difficulties in the remembering correct spelling rules and patterns at a more advanced level.
  • Dyslalia: It is a disorder in the articulation of phonemes.This is an inability to correctly pronounce certain phonemes or groups of phonemes.

Educational strategies

Once the student is diagnosed as dyslexic, it can be fairly helpful to use some of these guidelines:

  1. The first thing we must do, when we have in our classroom a child with dyslexia, is to explain the disorder to the rest of their classmates. Otherwise, other students can see the adaptations as a privilege instead of a special educational need.
  2. Use an agenda because dyslexics often have short-term memory problems.
  3. In many cases, we can find that the student is suffering also from dysgraphia, where their writing will be severely affected and may become unreadable. In these cases we must allow the student work on a computer.The computer is one of the most useful tools for people with dyslexia.
  4. If possible the child should be allowed to take exams orally or have more time in written tests.
  5. Allow these children to read books at a lower level to the rest of the class, appropriate to their reading level. It will be even better if the pupil can choose the book. Our main goal is to achieve that students with dyslexia begin to feel curious and motivated by the world of letters.
  6. Use the recorder as a reinforcing resource. You can both record important lessons to help the student study more easily at home.
  7. To read aloud in front of peers, it would be beneficial to give them in advance the specific text which you will all read in the classroom. This gives them the opportunity of reading without pressure.
  8. Use multisensory methods relating to what they see, hear and feel.

Ainoa Cano