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Improving the Educational Experience for Dyslexic Students


WAIT! Are you dyslexic? Click on this link to access a dyslexia-friendly version of my page!

 

We’ve all seen or heard of dyslexia before, whether you have a friend who has dyslexia or you heard about it quickly on TV, but do you actually know what dyslexia is? Most people probably only know that dyslexia has “something to do with the brain” and that school is generally more difficult for dyslexic people. If that sounds like you, don’t feel guilty! You’re definitely not the only one. But if this doesn’t sound like you and you’re the expert on dyslexia or maybe you have it, that’s awesome! (You might want to scroll down until you see “School for Dyslexic Students” to get past the introduction after you do the following surveys!) Here, let’s do a few quick polls just to see where everyone stands:

 

Do you have dyslexia?

Yes, I have dyslexia.
No, but I’m close to someone who does.
No, but I know someone who does.
No, I don’t know anyone who does either.
Created with Survey Maker

 

Let’s be honest, do you actually know what dyslexia is?

Yes, I know pretty much everything about dyslexia.
Yes, but I don’t know everything about dyslexia.
No, but I have a general idea of what dyslexia is.
No, but I’ve heard of dyslexia.
I’ve never heard of dyslexia.
Created with Survey Maker

 

 


 

What is Dyslexia?

So, finally to answer the question: what is dyslexia? According to the International Dyslexia Association, dyslexia is “a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede the growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.” This video defines dyslexia in slightly clearer terms (with interesting visuals) and slightly addresses the misconceptions surrounding dyslexia:

(I apologize for his somewhat monotone voice in advance but I think the information and visuals make up for it. )

Dyslexia is essentially a learning disorder that gives those who have it trouble with reading or writing; it can also be accompanied by an audio processing disorder, which affects a person’s ability to understand speech. But as they say, “you never truly know someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” Take a look at this website that shows what it’s like to read when you have dyslexia.

Symptoms of dyslexia (according to the Mayo Clinic):

Before School:

  • Late talking
  • Learning new words slowly
  • Problems forming words correctly, such as reversing sounds in words or confusing words that sound alike
  • Problems remembering or naming letters, numbers and colors
  • Difficulty learning nursery rhymes or playing rhyming games

School Age:

  • Reading well below the expected level for age
  • Problems processing and understanding what he or she hears
  • Difficulty finding the right word or forming answers to questions
  • Problems remembering the sequence of things
  • Difficulty seeing (and occasionally hearing) similarities and differences in letters and words
  • Inability to sound out the pronunciation of an unfamiliar word
  • Difficulty spelling
  • Spending an unusually long time completing tasks that involve reading or writing
  • Avoiding activities that involve reading

Teens and Adults:

  • Difficulty reading, including reading aloud
  • Slow and labor-intensive reading and writing
  • Problems spelling
  • Avoiding activities that involve reading
  • Mispronouncing names or words, or problems retrieving words
  • Trouble understanding jokes or expressions that have a meaning not easily understood from the specific words (idioms), such as “piece of cake” meaning “easy”
  • Spending an unusually long time completing tasks that involve reading or writing
  • Difficulty summarizing a story
  • Trouble learning a foreign language
  • Difficulty memorizing

It’s important to note though that dyslexia is different for everyone who has it, in not only their symptoms but their social and emotional experience with dyslexia (this is something we’ll go into this later though).

 


School for Dyslexic Students

This image shows a struggling dyslexic student compared to his classmates.

About 20% of school-aged children in the United States are dyslexic. It is evident that because of the symptoms of their disorder, many dyslexic students struggle in school, and while most teachers try to accommodate for such students, they aren’t always able to do so effectively as most teachers don’t have any form of special training for teaching dyslexic students; consequently, bright dyslexic students end up “falling behind” in school. This is why many parents of dyslexic students ultimately end up seeking out tutors and specialists, but such tutors can be somewhat costly, ranging from $25-$80 per hour on average in the United States (but this can vary based on geographical location). Therefore, many families have to settle for the probably limited capability of their child’s teacher to properly educate them.

This image depicts students bullying another student, an experience many dyslexic students go through.

Now the “school experience” isn’t only characterized by one’s education, but also their relationship with their peers. Because of their disorder, many dyslexic students experience some form of teasing or bullying while they are in school. A study conducted by the University of Toronto and the University of North Carolina actually found that 35% of the dyslexic adults whose records were examined had been the victim of physical abuse before they turned 18 compared to just 7% of those without dyslexia. Co-author of this study Stephen Cooper even suggested that experiencing physical bullying could contribute to and exacerbate learning difficulties on top of an existing neurologic burden.

 

Interview With Chastity Rodriguez

I had a conversation with Chastity Rodriguez, the guidance counselor at my school, about exactly what kind of emotional impact such struggles in school can do to a student. We discussed the different scenarios between a teacher and a dyslexic student and how depending on that relationship, the emotional impact can vary, the one with the most severe impact being if a teacher was unaware of a student’s dyslexia.

If a teacher is unaware that a student is dyslexic, in that the student someway and somehow declines to share this information with a teacher if they are uncomfortable speaking with the teacher or ashamed of their disorder, this would create a highly-stress inducing environment. Ms. Rodriguez said that “Secrecy and shame are very draining emotions…Holding a secret is exhausting, and shame around that secret is very draining.” She said that the student would ultimately end up using the bulk of their energy to handle these emotions rather than focusing this energy on their school work.

 

Interview with a Dyslexic Student:

One of my close friends at school Maggie Eberle actually has dyslexia so I interviewed her about her personal experience with dyslexia. Maggie is actually who inspired me to do all this research and ultimately develop this project! You can read through the transcript of the interview below to get more of a personal understanding of a dyslexic student’s experience!

 

 


 

What Can We Do?

Dyslexic students don’t have too much control over their school experience, but we have the ability to make a change and improve their overall school experience.

 

Dyslexia Training/Certification for Educators:

First, to improve their experience in the classroom, it is important that all educators understand how to properly teach their dyslexic students. In the United Kingdom, a survey revealed that more than half of the teachers they surveyed had no specific training on dyslexia in a country where approximately 3 dyslexic students are present in every classroom.

I call for mandatory dyslexia training for all educators through their educational institute. If quality dyslexia training is not accessible in one’s area, an alternative for this is to have all educators gain dyslexia training and certification through the Dyslexia Training Institute‘s online classes, webinars, and certification programs.

The Dyslexia Training Institue provides various certificate programs and classes on dyslexia.

 

If you are an educator and your educational institution does not have a dyslexia training program implemented or dyslexia training is not available nearby, or you are simply unable to gain certification at the moment, I highly encourage every educator to independently take initiative and gain dyslexia training and/or take a look at the resources I have listed below:

Coursera offers a course to “ learn why some children have so much difficulty with reading and writing, often called ‘dyslexia’, and to learn more about best practice in teaching literacy to all in light of recent scientific discoveries.” Click on the word “course” above or check it out here: https://www.coursera.org/learn/dyslexia-difficulties/

 

I especially recommend that all educators read through the International Dyslexia Association’s handbook Dyslexia in the Classroom: What Every Teacher Needs to Know;

“This handbook is intended to support all teachers in their passion to help every child reach his or her fullest potential. Use it to raise awareness, share best practices, and be a resource to your school’s administration and staff.

The International Dyslexia Association has a helpful handbook on teaching dyslexic students.

Inside you’ll learn more about find topics such as:

  • Signs and symptoms of dyslexia
  • Classroom strategies, tips, and tools
  • Components of effective reading instruction
  • Screening, evaluation, and diagnosis”

 

 

Please share these resources with as many educators as possible!

 

Raise Awareness at Your School:

As mentioned earlier, a great number of dyslexic students experience some form of bullying while they are in school. However, this number can be lowered just by making more people aware of what dyslexia actually is. I suggest that every school acknowledge international Dyslexia Awareness Month in October by dedicating an assembly to educating students (and teachers!) on what dyslexia is or even simply putting up posters around their school.  This is something that actually everyone can participate in! Even if you aren’t currently a student or an educator, you can help make a difference by simply spreading information on what dyslexia is. Better yet, you can simply share my Catalyst Conference Page!

Raise awareness at your school!

 

In implementing these changes in our schools and by taking initiative, I truly believe that we can not only make every dyslexic student’s educational experience better but make our school communities better and more aware by working together!

Please free to leave any questions you want to ask me in the comments section and I’ll happily answer them! Thank you so much for taking the time to read through my page!


Sources:

http://geon.github.io/programming/2016/03/03/dsxyliea

https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/tutors/types-of-tutoring/tutoring-kids-with-dyslexia-what-you-need-to-know

http://www.iansyst.co.uk/news/dyslexia/dyslexia-corresponds-with-physical-bullying-study-finds/801733756

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2013/oct/15/dyslexia-awareness-teaching-resources

http://www.dyslexiatraininginstitute.org/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dyslexia/symptoms-causes/syc-20353552

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/186787.php

http://www.austinlearningsolutions.com/blog/38-dyslexia-facts-and-statistics.html

Dyslexia in the Classroom: What Every Teacher Needs to Know

https://dyslexiaida.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/DITC-Handbook.pdf

Definition of Dyslexia

https://www.coursera.org/learn/dyslexia-difficulties/

Share this project
COMMENTS: 17
  1. April 27, 2018 by 麦杰森

    非常翔实

    • April 27, 2018 by Amy.Mistri

      Thank you very much!

  2. April 27, 2018 by Ananya

    આ એક મહાન વેબસાઇટ છે

    • April 27, 2018 by Amy.Mistri

      Thank you so much Ananya! I’m glad you liked it!

  3. April 27, 2018 by 君明

    我觉得很有趣!

    • April 27, 2018 by Amy.Mistri

      Thank you very much! I’m happy to hear that.

  4. April 27, 2018 by Julia.Cohon

    Great work on your project! What do you think is the most important thing for students to help the movement to improve education for dyslexic students? Can the students do anything to help?

    • April 28, 2018 by Amy.Mistri

      Hi Julia! Thank you very much! First of all, thank you for taking the time to read through my page, I really appreciate it. There is so much students can do to help improve education for dyslexic students to help! If you can, try to reach out to a counselor or a dean and discuss potentially implementing a dyslexic training platform for teachers at your school or simply share the various places/sites where teachers can get proper knowledge on how to educate dyslexic students. Otherwise, simply try to spread awareness at your school about dyslexia to try and improve the social aspect of their school experience as more people will be exactly aware of their learning disorder!

  5. April 27, 2018 by Surumya.Bhargava

    I love the work you’ve put into this project! Having special needs myself, there was actually a point in time where I did a lot of reading on dyslexia and highly considered that I could be one of many with it. Although my testing has never proven that I am dyslexic, I think we all have our moments where our brain plays tricks on us and have “dyslexic moments.” It’s interesting given how many people suffer with it, just how little we do and how much everyone knows.

    • April 28, 2018 by Amy.Mistri

      Thank you very much! To your last point, this is exactly why it is so important that we spread awareness and properly accommodate for people with dyslexia and those with learning disorders in general!

  6. April 27, 2018 by Ben Poulios

    I really love this! I learned a lot of things that I didn’t know before.

    • April 28, 2018 by Amy.Mistri

      Thanks so much Ben! I’m glad to hear you learned a lot from my page!

  7. April 29, 2018 by Marcus.Jackson

    Your project was amazing. I didn’t know a lot about dyslexia before reading your presentation.

    • April 30, 2018 by Amy.Mistri

      Thanks Marcus! I’m happy to hear that you learned more about dyslexia through my page!

  8. April 30, 2018 by Madison.Collins

    This issue is really important to me because one of my best friends has dyslexia. This is a really amazing project.

  9. May 01, 2018 by Talia.Cieslinski

    This is a great project! I have dyslexia and I think you represented it very well here and I especially liked how you made clear that it’s different for everyone who has it because I feel like there is usually one type of dyslexia that is produced through the media being the kind where words get jumbled and stuff and I think its great to clarify that it’s not like that for everyone.

  10. May 02, 2018 by Kat

    This is spectacular!!!!!!!!!! I have dyslexia and dysgraphia. I have never seen anything like this before. I love the page that was written to be dyslexia friendly. I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!! I have been dealing with this my whole life and the stigma around extended time testing, people not really knowing what it is and judging, literally all the information you said is just so true. I actually downloaded it because I love your presentation. This is the only presentation that I have read that I actually understand because of the font. You are amazing and I love this presentation!!!.

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