You’ve probably heard somebody say, “I’m so dyslexic!” when they misread something or flip around letters. But what is dyslexia, really? Let’s sort some dyslexia facts from dyslexia myths.
Dyslexia is a common term for a specific learning disability in reading. Dyslexia is:
- Neurological in origin
- Characterized by problematic reading accuracy or fluency, including trouble with word recognition, poor spelling, and weak decoding abilities
- Often the result of phonological processing difficulties
Students with dyslexia are often slow or inaccurate readers and may have trouble understanding the meaning of what they read. This challenge can impact learning in other areas when students are expected to read to learn.
While teachers are not the ones to diagnose dyslexia, they are often the ones doing early screening or noticing the challenges students have. And we need to know how to support students with dyslexia.
A psychologist versed in education usually does the assessment to diagnose dyslexia.
How to recognize students with dyslexia
Students with dyslexia may:
- Have trouble learning letter names and sounds
- Not understand that sounds can be represented by letters or groups of letters
- Struggle to hear and manipulate sounds in words
- Read slowly and inaccurately (even with great effort)
- Repeatedly misread and misspell frequently used words
- Have trouble remembering how to spell words over time
- Read a word correctly in one spot and then fail to recognize it later in the text
- Struggle to sustain attention on literacy activities or be reluctant to read
- Have average to above average abilities in other areas
- Have a family member with dyslexia or difficulty writing and reading
- Not progress as expected, even with extra help
It’s a dyslexia myth that students can’t be diagnosed before age 8. It’s true that before a student is diagnosed as dyslexic, they should have undergone 6 months of intervention to improve reading accuracy and fluency. That should include a well-designed structured, synthetic phonics program. Dyslexia can slip through the cracks, and the sooner dyslexia is uncovered, the sooner students can get the support they need.
How to help students with dyslexia
Students with dyslexia need support focused on phonics. Developing phonological awareness and phonemic awareness skills is essential, and the best way to do that is to use a systematic, synthetic phonics program.
Systematic synthetic phonics programs help students improve accuracy and fluency. As accuracy improves, use simple, decodable texts to help students improve fluency. Improving accuracy and fluency is one step to improving reading comprehension, but students will also need specific instruction on reading comprehension strategies.
So start with phonics. If you haven’t implemented a structured phonics system, a phonics scope and sequence provides a systematic and explicit plan for teaching phonics and the core code knowledge.
Get your Free Phonics Scope and Sequence
The phonics scope and sequence recommends resources for practice of the phonics sounds and skills covered. Get access to done for you phonics resources in the Top Notch Literacy Club that you can use for your whole class — including students with dyslexia — to develop phonological and phonemic awareness.