Imagine trying to read a sentence when every other word looks like made-up gibberish. It’s exhausting to read the sentence over and over again, trying to put together the meaning. That one troublesome sentence is followed by another… and another… and another…
You know it’s not your fault – it’s the text doesn’t make sense.
Now imagine that you’re in a room full of your peers, but you’re the only one who seems to be having trouble. You’re sociable, intelligent, and creative, but you’re terrified you’ll be asked to read aloud and anxious you won’t be able to retain the information you need to.
According to recent study out of Yale, this is the daily reality for 1 out of 5 people: this is the world of the dyslexic.
Because dyslexia is so common, everyone can benefit from getting better at recognizing, understanding, and working with people who have dyslexia, helping to convey the information in a way that’s easier for them to process.
These 10 resources are essentials that will help you not only empathize, but work more cohesively together.
To help educators and students, we’ve grouped these resources together into 4 key categories: Understanding dyslexia, identifying dyslexia, how to teach dyslexic students and personal accounts from dyslexics that offer an inside look in what life with dyslexia is really like.
1. Dyslexia This article by Dr. Sally E. Shaywitz, one of the world’s foremost authorities on dyslexia, outlines the origins of dyslexia research and opens the discussion with the puzzle that perplexed so many early scholars: Why do some brilliant students display difficulties with concepts such as spelling and mathematics?
While this article is useful for opening a discussion, the entire website that hosts it – The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity – is an invaluable resource for all research related to dyslexia.
2. What is Dyslexia? (video) Kelli Sandman-Hurley has created this awesome and informative short video that introduces both dyslexia and neurodiversity. He makes the compelling case that our brains possess an infinite variety of small structural differences, and that claiming one brain is ‘normal’ while another is ‘abnormal’ is the wrong way to think about dyslexia.
3. Embracing Dyslexia This documentary, directed and produced by Luis Macias, should be required viewing for every educator. This 50-minute video includes commentaries by scholars, accounts by teachers and parents responsible for educating dyslexic individuals, and personal testimonies by both children and adults that live with dyslexia. The video probes the challenges experienced by dyslexics and reveals how so many of these problems can be overcome with an understanding educator and a more supportive school system.
4. What is Dyslexia? (article) This article by the National Center for Learning Disabilities provides a comprehensive list of possible signs of dyslexia across different age groups. It’s a huge help in identifying symptoms as early as possible. The NCLD also stresses the importance of positive reinforcement, as it can be discouraging for people with dyslexia to fall behind peers in reading comprehension. Students need to be reminded that a struggle with the written word is in no way indicative of lower intelligence, and this article will give you all the tools you need to start being a positive encouragement.
5. Types of Dyslexia It’s important to remember that dyslexic individuals are just that: individuals! Different teaching methods will have varying degrees of success on different students, and this website lists different stimuli that may prove effective on different sub-categories of dyslexia. While many resources deal specifically with dyslexia in children, the Dyslexia Reading Well website breaks down into different categories and offers unique insights into individuals that may develop dyslexia later in life.
6. Four Things All Educators Should Understand About the Dyslexic Brain In this short article by Patrick Wilson’s, he separates the surmountable symptoms of dyslexia from the condition itself. Wilson’s four points highlight the parts of written language that might prove difficult for dyslexic students, while also showcasing their creative strengths. It’s well-rounded and important reading.
7. Understanding Your Dyslexia. This article published by the International Dyslexia Association emphasizes a deceptively simple teaching strategy: a multisensory approach. We’ve known for decades that different individuals respond more favorably to different types of education: some are auditory learners, some visual, and others respond to tactile experiences. Why wouldn’t we use this knowledge to bridge a gap in understanding with dyslexic students and peers?
8. A Guide for Teachers and Parents This article outlines simple but effective methods of communicating with dyslexic students. These methods include using different coloured chalk or dry-erase markers in a lesson, clear underpinning of spelling rules and patterns, and marking strategies that award students for their creativity as much as their logical prowess.
9. Getting Around My Dyslexia This personal look into the life of Neil Cottrell is chock-full of useful tips for both teachers and students, such as the importance of text-to-speech software and autocorrect in a dyslexic student’s life. Neil also describes how he was able to deal with his dyslexia with simple and inexpensive methods, such as having his teachers read passages aloud to him, or using his cell phone to make to-do lists throughout the day.
10. Dealing With Dyslexia In this blog post, teacher Lori Bourne catalogues resources that have helped her understand dyslexia in her family members and students. This blog is an encouraging example of an educator that is eager to help her students by understanding their difficulties. At her most inspirational, Lori recognizes the achievements of famous dyslexics such as Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso and concludes that “these people weren’t brilliant in spite of being dyslexic; they were brilliant because they were dyslexic.”
“A teacher sent the following note home with a six-year-old boy: ‘He is too stupid to learn.’ That boy was Thomas A. Edison,” said Edison himself. Edison’s teachers assumed that, because he was dyslexic, he would never amount to anything.
As history has proven, they could not have been more wrong.
Dyslexia is not a condition that paralyzes someone on the road to success, nor should it be a condition that paralyzes a teacher in the classroom. Being well-versed in the signs of dyslexia will allow you to spot struggling students early and better understand how to help them.
And, who knows? You could be teaching the next Henry Ford, Agatha Christie, or Walt Disney. Maybe there’s a Steve Jobs or Beethoven in your class. All famous, all successful, these individuals were also all dyslexic, and not a single one was disabled.
It’s all just a matter of understanding.