Getting Along with Dyslexia

Dyslexia, also known as reading disorder, is characterized by trouble with reading despite normal intelligence. Different people are affected to varying degrees. Problems may include difficulties in spelling words, reading quickly,writing words, “sounding out” words in the head, pronouncing words when reading aloud and understanding what one reads. Often these difficulties are first noticed at school.[4] When someone who previously could read loses their ability, it is known as alexia. The difficulties are involuntary and people with this disorder have a normal desire tolearn.

How to Cope with Dyslexia

Dyslexia is a learning disability characterized by difficulties with reading and writing composition, as well as high levels of creativity and ‘big picture’ thinking. Coping with dyslexia can be challenging, but it is possible. With the right attitude, strategies, tools, and support you can not only cope with dyslexia, but have a successful and productive life.

1.Improving Your Reading and Writing

Practice decoding words. People with dyslexia often have difficulty decoding words and often focus so much on decoding that they don’t remember what they have read.[1] Practicing word decoding can improve your reading fluency which will help improve your reading comprehension.

  • Use flash cards on a regular basis to familiarize yourself with frequently used words and letter combinations.
  • Read ‘easy’ text just for the decoding practice. See if you can decrease the amount of time it takes for you to read the text.
  • Read aloud often. Because of the difficulties with decoding words, reading aloud can be a challenging and sometimes embarrassing experience for people with dyslexia.

Ignore, then address spelling. Often when people with dyslexia are writing, they become so focused on spelling words correctly that they lose their train of thought. Try to ignore spelling when you are writing a draft, focus only on getting your ideas out. Then, go back later and review the document for spelling mistakes.

Use models when writing. Because people with dyslexia may struggle with remembering correct letter and number formation, it helps to keep a picture or have someone write a great example of the characters that give you the most difficulty to refer to when needed.[2]

  • An index card with uppercase and lowercase letters, as well as numbers handwritten on it, is an unobtrusive may to have character models.
  • Flashcards can also serve the dual purpose of reviewing letter sounds and showing what they look like.

Plan and review your writing. Thinking about what you want to write before you begin writing can help focus your writing and help you manage your time. Reviewing your writing enables you to catch any spelling, grammatical, or other errors.

  • Think about what your main idea is, what details support it, and how you want to conclude.
  • Read your writing aloud. It is sometimes easier to spot mistakes this way.
  • Have someone else read your writing to you so you can hear how your ideas flow together.
2. Studying and Completing Tasks

Give yourself enough time. Because tasks requiring reading or writing can take a little longer for people with dyslexia, making sure you give yourself adequate time to complete your work is important. Think about how much time each assignment will take and plan accordingly.

  • For example, if you know it takes you roughly five minutes to read one full page of text, and you have 10 pages to read, you need to set aside at least an hour to complete this assignment.
  • If needed, ask your teacher how much time she expects other students to spend on the assignment. Consider doubling, or at least increasing that time for yourself.
  • Don’t wait to start on your assignments. The sooner you start, the more time you will have to work on them. If you wait, you may find that you don’t have enough time to complete them or end up doing a poor job because you were rushing.

Remove distractions.
Anyone, not just people with dyslexia, can easily become distracted when there is something going on or just around that is more interesting than what you are currently doing. Removing things that may distract you allows you to give your full attention to tasks that require a lot of mental energy.

  • Put electronic devices on silent and turn off the music, TV, etc.
  • Try to make sure your friends, coworkers, and family know that this is “study time” so that they can avoid interrupting you.
  • Keep only the things that you need to complete the task around you. Put away anything you don’t need.

Break assignments and tasks down. Instead of tackling something all at once, work on it in smaller chunks. Breaking it down allows you to focus more closely on the specific task and makes the assignment less overwhelming.

  • For example, if you have a 20 page reading assignment, plan to read five pages at a time with short breaks to digest what you have read.
  • If you have to write a report, break it down so that one day you write the outline, the next day you complete the introduction, one section of the body the next day, and so forth.

Take frequent breaks. In between each chunk of work, take a short break. This helps you to absorb the information you just acquired or decompress from the work you just completed. It also gives your mind a fresh start for your next chunk of work.

  1. After you complete a chunk of work, think briefly about what you have learned or reviewed. This way you can make sure you understand it so far or know if you need to review it more.
  2. Take a minute or two to just clear your mind before you return from your break.

Keep your breaks to only a few minutes, longer than that and you may not be using your time wisely.

Study at night. You may find you can concentrate better before bedtime, when your mind and body are little more settled and there is less going on around you.[4] Try studying the most important material you have to look over at night.

Don’t do more than necessary. Taking on more than you need to increases the amount of work you feel is needed, which increases the amount of time it will take to complete the assignment. It also introduces more that your brain has to focus on organize.

  • This doesn’t mean be an underachiever, but it does mean you don’t need to make the task harder or more difficult than is required.
  • For example, if you have to write a report about Plato, don’t turn it into a study all of Greco-Roman antiquity.

Explore options to use your other strengths. When possible incorporate your other talents into your work so that you can reduce the amount of reading and writing you have to do. Use your artistic talents, public speaking skills, musical ability, etc. to make the assignment a bit easier on you.

  • If you are a student, talk with your teacher about modifying your assignment so that you can draw on strengths other than reading and writing.[5] For example, can you make a poster, comic book, diorama, video, model, etc.?
  • If it is a work assignment, try to incorporate more visual elements into it. For example, include charts, graphs, illustrations, models, etc. Or try making it an oral report that you don’t have to read.
  • Incorporate your strengths through drawing, music, visual aids, etc. in your studying to make it more interesting and easier for you to engage with.

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