When most people hear the word ‘dyslexia’ they usually think it means that the person sees words written backwards on the page -- almost like trying to read while holding a book up to a mirror. While that may be a symptom for some dyslexics, it’s not true for all. Dyslexia itself is a complicated learning disability that hinders the ability to read. Dyslexics can learn to read, it just takes special strategies and dyslexia toolkits. So the next question is how dyslexics read?
Reading is a very complex process. No one is born knowing how to read. We all must learn. Usually around kindergarten or first grade, you start to learn the sounds of letters and how to put them together in order to form words. Those words turn into sentences, paragraphs, and comprehending what you are reading when everything is put together. Your brain does a lot of things all at once. If Instead of just seeing c-a-t and reading it as ‘cat’, your brain also needs to make the connection that c-a-t is a small, four legged animal that meows. Dyslexics’ brains take longer to make the letters to word to comprehension connections while reading or does it in more steps. Reading becomes a terrifying, even embarrassing process. Instead of seeing the words in a straight forward, logical order, dyslexics might see words like this:
No wonder it’s a struggle to read! There are strategies to show how dyslexics read easier and more fluidly. Some great ideas to implement if you or someone you know has dyslexia include:
- Use the Phonetic Alphabet Code Chart - How well you decode words makes a huge difference on how easily you learn to read. The Phonetic Alphabet Code Chart shows what sounds go with what letter combinations. Keeping the code chart with you will make reading much easier.
- Use Font Software - Technology is making a huge impact on reading for dyslexic students. Special designed teachers fonts, like EZ Read/EZ Write/Brain Games, are having a great impact on the education of dyslexics and reading.
- Use strategies to decode words - If you have trouble breaking words down syllable by syllable, break it down even further. Try two letters at a time. If a long word is giving you a lot of trouble, try breaking it down into different 2 and 3 word combinations. For example: sec-ret-ary or se-cre-tary.
- Look for context clues - Sometimes the easiest way to figure out unfamiliar words and what they mean for the big picture of reading comprehension is to look for words around it that you do recognize and know what they mean. The words you know will give you “clues” on what the other words mean.
- Improve eye tracking - Place a ruler or piece of paper under the sentence that you’re reading. Move it along as you read. If you get to a hard or unfamiliar word, cover it with the paper and read it one syllable at a time. Narrowing the reading down to one line at a time will help your brain focus. See some fantastic dyslexia worksheets here.
- Practice reading out loud - This is a great strategy whether you’re dyslexic or not. Hearing your own voice out loud will force your eyes and brain to work together.
Being diagnosed with dyslexia doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to learn to read...It just means you are going to have to work harder at it than some people. Follow the strategies above and don’t get discouraged.
You can do this!