Most pupils acquire the skills of reading and writing with comparative ease. The dyslexic child, because of his/her learning difficulties, will struggle to make progress when taught these skills by normal established methods. Teachers and parents will find it frustrating to observe how little progress is being made with these children and will be tempted to repeat lessons or go through programs more thoroughly when what is needed is a different approach."
From Dyslexia How to Win by Dawn Matthews
Dyslexics have what is described as "poor short term visual and auditory memories". This means that they cannot recall the look of or the sound of the sequence of letters in words. Therefore, they have to be able to work out how to spell every word as they come to them and be able to decode every word as it is read. They need, therefore, to be taught how to build words and need to know basic phonics and spelling rules. Here is an extract from Dyslexia a Guide for Parents to help you understand this:
"The use of visual and auditory memory is best demonstrated in spelling. In order to fully understand this try asking a number of your colleagues or friends to spell out loud a moderately difficult word, say "efficient". Once they have performed this task ask them "how they did it". Almost all good spellers will describe either:
‘seeing the word’ or
‘hearing the letters’
and some will talk of both. A person who is unable to either "visualize the word" or hear it spelt to them will have great difficulty in this task. He/she will also have great difficulty in many other tasks involving memory and may be dyslexic."
A Guide for Parents, Dawn Matthews
Such people are likely to be dyslexic.
The following is a quote from Dyslexia How to Win,
For a dyslexic spelling never comes easily, however skilled or old (s)he is. I still have to sound out all my words and indeed rely heavily upon my computer’s spellchecker for irregularly spelt words. Every time I write or type out a word I still, after writing and typing a number of books, have to work out how to spell that word. Therefore, if I did not understand how words were spelt and know how to sound them out I would be truly stuck for words in this book.
Every time I press a keyboard key or form a letter upon a page I have to know the sound of that letter and the rules needed for the words so that I can work out how to type that word. In order to be able to do this and at the same time concentrate upon the content of what I’m writing, the sounding out of words has to be virtually instinctive.
It has been established that one of the best ways to teach spelling to a dyslexic is by using the multi-sensory approach and I always work this way with a dyslexic of any age.
For multi-sensory teaching to work best it is essential that all the senses be in use at the same time. When learning letters the following sensations must be carried out simultaneously:
- Feeling the shape of the letter
- Seeing the shape of the letter
- Hearing the sound of the letter as they say it
- Feeling themselves saying the sound of the letter
This teaching experience must be continued until all these sensations are automatically or instinctively linked in the pupil’s mind, not merely remembered when quizzed. To check that it is instinctive observe the pupil trying to write an unusual word with regular spelling like "splash" and watch to see whether (s)he mouths out or sounds out the individual letters.
It may be necessary to repeat the multi sensory experience of learning letters this way hundreds of times.
Consideration should be given to reducing boredom in this exercise when a child has to write and sound out the same letter so many times. Children could:
- Use different colors and types of writing implements;
- Vary the size of the letters;
- Vary the type of paper or jotter;
- Build up patterns using different letters;
If multi-sensory teaching of letters is to work quickly, you should organise a timetable for a pupil so that (s)he works a little every day.
Many of the common, little words in English are irregular in their spelling. That is to say they cannot be spelt by using simple phonics and spelling rules. This is a shame because it hinders children’s early acquisition of reading because the first words taught are often the hardest for a dyslexic to learn. These words have to be taught as one off words and often children learn them easiest through games. Here are some examples of common irregular words. The 200 most common can be found in Dyslexia – How to Win.
|1. I||2. the||3. all||4. be|
|5. for||6. her||7. so||8.before|
|9. call||10. come||11. do||12. give|
|13. some||14. like||15. made||16. me|
|17. my||18. now||19. only||20. other|
|21. right||22. write||23. then||24. two|
|25. to||26. what||27. when||28. where|
|29. who||30. which||31. of||32. one|
|33. won||34. they||35. you||36. your|
|37. came||38. could||39. should||40. would|
Speed of reading
This is taken from Dyslexia: A Guide for Teachers:
Because a dyslexic cannot scan ahead when reading he/she reads very slowly. The silent reading speed of even a well educated, adult dyslexic is frequently very much slower than the reading aloud speed of an ordinary person.
Wherever possible, try to allow the dyslexic extra time to read even the simplest of written instructions. Also give extra time for homework reading. Never give out reading books and ask for them to be read by the next week. It still takes me months to read a whole book, partly because of my slow reading speed and partly because of eyestrain that limits the periods of my reading to sometimes only half an hour.
- Find taped books if at all possible.
- Do not expect him/her to have finished when the rest of the class has finished.
- Pairing a dyslexic with a good reader can often help.
Dawn also says:
"Dyslexics usually find reading easier if they are not under a bright light. Often the harsh black print on white paper appears to move about and change in character for the dyslexic. Printing written material on blue or green paper often helps as does placing a transparent plastic overlay on top of the page. Different dyslexics prefer different colored overlays. You can get a rough idea of which is best for your child by placing text under a variety of different colored plastic folders. It you want the exact best color for your child or student then get him/her tested at an Irlen Clinic."
Famous dyslexic authors included Roald Dahl, Dame Agatha Christie, Jamie Oliver, Hans Christian Anderson, Gustave Flaubert, Sir Francis Bacon …
Many more helpful tips and suggestions can be found in all of Dawn’s books.