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What is Dyslexia?

"Specific learning disability means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia" (IDEA, 2018).

Dyslexia is a subcategory of Specific Learning Disability, and "is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge” (IDA, 2018).

  • Difficulty sustaining attention

  • May suffer from low self-esteem because of disability

  • May have poor fine motor skills

  • May have mild gross motor skills dysfunctions

  • Is often ambidextrous

  • Good spacial awareness

  • Able to see the big picture

  • Excellent visual memory

  • Enhanced peripheral vision

  • Good problem solvers

  • Very creative

  • Can be either very organized or very disorganized

  • May be quiet or disruptive

  • May become frustrated or withdrawn if having difficulty reading or writing

  • Has difficulty hearing different phonemes

  • Poor reading comprehension without help

  • May have difficulty writing legibly with a pen or pencil

  • Switches letter order when reading and writing

  • May have difficulty with counting, arithmetic and telling time

  • May have a slow processing speed for reading, writing, and naming words

  • Impaired ability to decode language, spell, and conduct phonological processing

Levels of Severity
  • Dyslexia ranges from mild to severe

  • There are 4 types of dyslexia:

    • Phonological Dyslexia

      • Difficulty breaking down language into sounds

      • Difficulty matching language sounds to written symbols

    • Surface Dyslexia

      • Difficulty remembering words

      • Difficulty visualizing words

    • Rapid Naming Deficit

      • Difficulty saying words or numbers quickly

    • Surface Dyslexia

      • Difficulty with identifying words, and naming speed

  • It is estimated that 

  • Students with dyslexia are educated in mainstream classrooms

  • Teachers should be aware of what type of dyslexia their student(s) have, and structure differentiated instruction accordingly

  • Allow for extra time for testing, written, and reading assignments

  • Plan group work in a way that encourages inclusion

  • Allow students with dyslexia to present verbally in a virtual or private setting if they are too embarrassed to do so in front of the class


Student Questions

Grades K-4:

  • Can I show you the picture I drew?

  • Do the books have pictures?

  • Will everybody know I have trouble reading?


Grades 5-8:   

  • When can I move up to a higher reading group?

  • Do I have to read out loud in front of the class?

  • Who do I talk to if I feel bullied?


Grades 9-12:

  • Will someone be reading tests to me?

  •  Can I have text-to-speech for all of my notes?

  •  Will I get extra time for tests?

Parent Questions
  • Who do I talk to about getting an Individualized Education Plan for my child?

  • Are there dyslexia programs available through school?

  • How will my child be supported in reading and writing?

  • Will my child have extra time for written assignments?

  • Will my child have extra time for reading assignments?

  • Can my child have texting accommodations?

  • their peers?
Teacher Questions
  • Where do I get additional training for working with students with dyslexia?

  • What assistive technology do I have available to help me differentiate instruction for students with dyslexia?

  • How can I support all levels of literacy proficiency in my classroom?

  • What administrative and additional support do I have to help me support my students with dyslexia?

  • How can I model tolerance and inclusion in my classroom?

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