Let’s Talk Dyslexia
Many of the students that come through our doors experience learning differences, and the one we see most frequently is dyslexia. Often we find dyslexia is misunderstood. Our students are the very reason why we do what we do at Wright Academics, so we wanted to shed some light on what dyslexia actually looks like and how to best support those who experience it.
Although I have been running this business for years, the uncertainty of this time has ironically made my purpose crystal clear: I am here to listen, serve, and support. I have always been passionate about those things, but the call I mentioned earlier put words to those whispers that have always been within my heart.
What is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a language-based learning difference which makes reading, decoding, and spelling harder for students. Students who experience dyslexia occasionally have difficulty with vocabulary related lessons or recalling things (such as multiplication facts) as well.
A common myth associated with dyslexia is that students who experience this learning difference are not intelligent. That is NOT true! Students who have dyslexia have brains that are wired differently, but their learning difference has nothing to do with their intelligence. Dyslexia is a phonemic learning difference associated with reading, and reading is not innate. Reading is TAUGHT! Because of this, students with dyslexia can benefit from early intervention and multi-sensory and systematic learning techniques.
Often dyslexia can occur in combination with other learning differences (dysgraphia), anxiety, attention issues (ADD or ADHD), and depression. If not caught early, dyslexia can leave students feeling frustrated, distraught, and extremely discouraged.
How do we serve our dyslexic students?
Our tutors are trained in the Orton Gillingham method, which is a systematic phonetic approach to reading. This method starts with the smallest unit of sound and then builds from there. Phonemic awareness is learning how to manipulate sounds and syllables without seeing letters at all (simply by hearing them) and teaching students how to do this automatically.
Phonemic awareness focuses on segmenting deleting, counting, blending, and substituting sounds and syllables. Developing phonemic awareness is the precursor to reading and writing efficiently. The key to this approach is that it HAS TO BE multi-sensory, which means seeing, writing, saying, and hearing content. All of the senses need to be working at the same time in order to build new neuropathways in the brain and, ultimately, help the student understand the material at hand.
While early intervention and obtaining a tutor trained in helping students with dyslexia should always be the main way to support a dyslexic student, there are other tips and tricks that help as well. One such trick is to use color as a memory tool; color is innately sensory and helps those with dyslexia remember information more easily. Another tip is to have you mind or bullet mapping. In this approach, the student writes down ideas, words, etc. on a piece of paper and shows how one thing connects to another. From there, students are able to grow their sentences and train their brain to see how sounds, words, and sentences all connect. A great app we often recommend is InferCabulary. This app is visually stimulating and semantic, which greatly benefits dyslexic students.
If you gain nothing more from this blog, I hope you take away this: those with dyslexia are capable of so many wonderful, incredible things. Their brains are wired differently, which gives them the benefit of seeing different ideas and concepts differently as well. I have had some students who think in 3-D! AMAZING! Some of the brightest minds in this world have dyslexia, and they are innovating and creating new, fantastic things every single day!
If you are interested in learning more about our academic coaching or the resources we recommend, click HERE.
About Evelyn Wright
Evelyn Wright is the Director of Wright Academics, a tutoring business created to target kids’ specific needs. Her passion is helping students and families succeed so that they achieve their maximum potential in and out of the classroom.
With over 25 years of experience working with children and their families in public and private schools, as well as in private practice, Evelyn’s focus is understanding the individual’s learning profile, guiding families of children with learning differences and matching students to the tutor or coach that best fits the student. She believes in not only matching educational needs to the right tutor’s skills, but matching a student to the tutor with the right personality.