Whether you are a parent with a dyslexic child or a teacher that is about to welcome a dyslexic student into their classroom, here’s what you can do to support students with dyslexia
Now that we have traded the beach bag for the school backpack it’s time to think about how we can support our students with dyslexia as they are back at school.
Awareness: What is dyslexia?
As a dyslexia therapist, many times I would have newly identified students step into my classroom not knowing why they were there. When the word dyslexia was mentioned, they would get a scary look on their face because they weren’t aware of what having dyslexia meant and how it was going to impact them. It is important for us to have a conversation with our students about what dyslexia is, so they can truly get an understanding of how it impacts them in life. Understood.org has great resources that cover frequently asked questions about dyslexia that can help get the conversation started.
It is important for both educators and parents to be aware of things they can do to help support their dyslexic students.
Awareness: Student accommodations
After a student has been diagnosed with dyslexia, they are provided classroom accommodations that will help them succeed in class. Another thing that I saw as a dyslexia therapist was that many students were unaware that they even had accommodations that they were able to use with their school work and exams. Many students can be a little hesitant to use their accommodations because it makes them feel like they are cheating in a way. As an educator and parent, it is important for us to take the time to thoroughly explain to our students the specific accommodations they have, what they mean, and how to use them. Our students need to understand that their accommodations are leveling the playing field and that they are there to help them be successful in the classroom.
Use of available technology
Students are now able to take control of their own learning by using technology to help assist them with their learning. One way technology can help our students is through the use of text-to-speech. Students are now able to choose when they can do their assignments. By using text-to-speech (TTS), they no longer have to rely on an adult to read to them as they can use the TTS tool at their convenience.
Another way technology can assist our students is through the use of speech-to-text (STT). Our students have difficulty putting their thoughts into words because they are spending most of their cognitive resources worrying about spelling. With speech-to-text, students are able to let their thoughts flow without thinking about how to spell the word. STT is also a great tool to use to take notes on class lectures.
Many school districts already provide access to apps, like Learning Ally and Snap and Read, at no cost to parents that can benefit our students with dyslexia. Educators and parents can check what’s already available in their district and take the necessary steps to teach students how to use these apps.
Embrace the power of dyslexia
We need to encourage our students to embrace the power of their dyslexic brains. An easy way to start this conversation is by sharing with them stories of famous dyslexics. Numerous students have seen a Disney movie, have an Apple device, and/or have seen Jurassic Park. Many of them are shocked to discover that people with dyslexic brains were the creators. Listening to success stories from celebrities as well as regular people can help inspire and encourage our students. We need to teach our students to believe in themselves and that regardless of their learning disability, they can still dream big.
It is important for both educators and parents to be aware of things they can do to help support their dyslexic students. I invite you to share this blog with your colleagues and parents to help start the conversation.