EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT FOR STUDENTS WITH DYSLEXIA
Dyslexia is a term defining a difficulty with reading and writing in persons without intellectual disability. This difficulty is due to cognitive and motor skills disorders and their integration, which is brought about by the malfunctioning of the nervous system
Even though many countries fail to recognise dyslexia as a disability, it is well justified to see it as such as the problems experienced by persons living with dyslexia call for special conditions and support in the educational process. Dyslexia is an incurable disorder.
Basic symptoms of dyslexia include:
- Slow and inaccurate reading (decoding): persons with dyslexia read more slowly; tend to jumble letters and words; skip words or confuse lines as they read; have difficulty accentuating words in a sentence and associating individual words with their correct meanings. This brings about problems with reading comprehension, memory and text processing. Persons with dyslexia find it difficult to read, especially out loud
- Inaccurate recording (encoding), i.e. difficulty with correct spelling; persons with dyslexia find it difficult to write down information; tend to confuse letters that are similar in shape or that represent similar phonemes; omit or add letters, words or word endings when writing and reading; make a lot of spelling mistakes even if they know spelling and punctuation rules.
Most common difficulties:
In the learning process, persons with dyslexia will most likely have difficulty with:
- taking handwritten notes: students with dyslexia find it exceedingly difficult to listen and write simultaneously, especially if their notes are to be accurate and taken fast
- listening comprehension: problems with understanding complex information and instructions
- foreign language acquisition
- written exams and tests
- memorising words that are unfamiliar, complicated or difficult to pronounce
- organizing and managing their work: planning activities, setting objectives and identifying priorities.
Teaching strategies for students with dyslexia
Classes and exams should be adjusted according to the student’s individual requirements and learning difficulties. When teaching students with dyslexia, you should:
- Provide a list of new vocabulary in advance so that students have enough time to master the vocabulary and learn how to use it in context
- Distribute a handout for the lecture/class well in advance. The student with dyslexia will be able to focus on the content of the class as he or she will not have to take notes
- Use audiovisual teaching materials, television documentaries or videos concerning the topic discussed.
- Use legible fonts (minimum size: 24) when giving a presentation. Limit the amount of data displayed on each slide to several key points
- Organise presentations and discussions in small groups. This gives students the opportunity to experiment with new vocabulary when discussing their ideas and sharing opinions
- Be aware of the fact that students with dyslexia need more time to formulate their thoughts
- Evaluate the student’s contribution individually and focus exclusively on its content
- Allow for minor spelling mistakes
- Encourage students to formulate questions and then answer them using simple language. It is advisable that you illustrate your points with specific examples
- Provide worksheets with keys so that students can check their mistakes
- Consider using different colours (eg of sheets) for different topics
- Provide clear definitions of new symbols; provide symbols together with their verbal definitions
- Allow students to use software that facilitates their learning process (eg text editing software)
- Allow students to use laptops in class. Persons with dyslexia have difficulty handwriting over a long period of time. Taking notes may be very tiring and stressful for them
- Encourage students to use their own notebooks and/or to prepare lists containing tasks to be done. This can help them plan their activities and prioritise their tasks.
- Bogdanowicz M., Ryzyko dysleksji. Problem i diagnozowanie [A risk of dyslexia. Problem and metod of diagnose], Gdańsk 2003.
- Nowak-Adamczyk D., Perdeus-Białek M., Szczocarz U. (red.), Wyrównywanie szans. Osoby niepełnosprawne na studiach przyrodniczych [Equal Opportunities. Students with Disability Majoring in Natural Sciences], Kraków 2011.
- Educational materials coming from the handbook for academic teaching staff developed under the DARE 2 project (www.DareProject.eu).
Below there are examples of mind maps for students with dyslexia helpful in learning :