In my ten years of experience, I have worked with many students who have dyslexia. The area where they seem to be most often affected is in reading. I have had much success in helping these types of students overcome their challenges. What I have found to be most effective is to systematically teach phonetics concepts and skills in a concrete, multisensory fashion. This means learning the consonant and vowel sounds, as well as their various combinations. Doing this in a multisensory way means that the various sound combinations are learned as chunks labeled on physical material (such as notecards, magnets, etc.). The student can manipulate these sounds, using them to make words, play games with them, etc. as a means to learn them. The are repeatedly verbalizing and listening to the sounds, which brings in the auditory aspect. Once students start to understand that a majority of sounds in the words they read actually “follow the rules” and make the sounds they are expected to make, they have a much easier time with reading. Specific strategies (covering up the suffixes, breaking words into syllables, using vowel changing, etc.) are very helpful as well. And once the student becomes familiar with applying them, they will find that they can read much easier.
Confidence is very important for children learning to read, and in addition to knowing the phonetics concepts and utilizing strategies, I have found the use of phrase reading and repeated timed readings to be very helpful. When students can break words into phrases (rather than word by word reading) they begin to notice that their reading sounds much smoother. Repeated timed readings give them the opportunity to reread a passage multiple times, increasing their familiarity with new words and improving their reading rate. As they hear themselves reading smoother and faster, they start to identify themselves as competent readers. Students love the opportunity to beat their timed reading scores and move up to higher goals!
Although Dyslexia is not ‘curable’ and the student will likely have the challenge for the rest of their life, they will feel so much better knowing that they have reading tools in their belt to support them on their journey. Here are some resources to encourage students with dyslexia on their path to success.