Accommodating the Dyslexic Student

yhst-55030780566641-2268-4256463.jpegThere are many accommodations and adjustments that can be used in a Dyslexic student's home and school environment that are simple and inexpensive and won't interfere with a teacher's classroom or a family setting.

* Contrary to the opinion that children should do their homework in a quiet environment, some Dyslexic students find music or TV as background noise helps them concentrate. Also some of the students we assess find concentration in the classroom difficult when they are working independently on their school work. They either find noise from their fellow classmates or a very quiet room is very distracting. We suggest an IPod or MP3 player with appropriate music will make it easier to focus and complete their assignments.

* Allow your students to work at a pace that is not stressful. Permit them to do fewer assignments or allow more time to complete them all.

* Test them orally if their hand printing is slow and difficult. The student´s strongest sense may be auditory.

* Permit the use of a computer to do written work if your student can type and are comfortable working on a computer. It offers many advantages to the dyslexic student whereas hand printing or writing creates more problems.

* Always design your questions and assignments around a given conclusion or fact. Dyslexic students think in concrete wholes, that is, they work backwards from a conclusion or fact to fill in all the parts. Do not give them open-ended questions that involve abstract instructions and must be worked out in a logical, step-by-step sequence to arrive at the answer unless you have thoroughly prepared them for this.

* Do not base the student´s marks on spelling, punctuation or grammatical errors. Errors in assignments should be corrected. These are very abstract concepts for them that the right brain does not easily process and cannot visualize as concrete images. These are not their fault, it is the fault of the school system that does not teach them the skills they need to learn these things. If these errors must be corrected before a student hands in an assignment or can be be graded and passed on this work, then permit someone else to edit the mistakes in spelling, grammar and punctuation. Parents are often helpful in this. These are all very abstract concepts that do not make sense to the right brain which sees in whole concrete images.

* Look for ideas, not clerical errors. Getting ideas down on paper is much more important than fretting over spelling, grammar and punctuation. teach these skills, remembering that refusing this accommodation slows the students down, frightens them and take away their freedom to think and fulfill their potential.If they do not achieve what they are capable of accomplishing intellectually they soon become depressed and give up.

* Their ability to use the correct grammar, punctuation and spelling forms may or may not improve with age, depending on the understand and teaching methods the students receive while learning these skills.

* Do not expect these student to be able to use a dictionary to correct spelling errors. This is sequencing at its most difficult and may be nearly impossible for many of these students. It is an exhausting, frustrating waste of time. Remember, the right brain needs a complete image to understand and work with it. To use a dictionary the student must have a full image and understanding of the whole dictionary page on which the word will be found. For some, this extends to a full visual image of the entire dictionary. Then the process of picking out that one small part on the page, the word wanted. The brain must be able to see the sequence of letters in every word on the page, then sequence the words in order to pick out the required word. Unless they have had a full training of building words using prefixes, stems, roots and suffixes, finding words in a dictionary is a great waste of time and stress.

* The solution is to print the words correctly for the students. Then have them copy yours and follow this up with using the thesaurus on the computer to teach them how to look up synonyms or the meaning in a dictionary on the Internet which brings up only one word at a time.

* Answer the student´s questions as often as possible, but keep your answers very short, clear and specific. Be precise. Do not repeat your answers unless the student asks you to do so. Then answer only what the student asks. Long explanations, different approaches, wordy definitions, or abstract thinking are all very tiring and difficult for these students who are looking for a concrete image to decode and define the word.

* Try to complete a lesson at one sitting. An incomplete lesson is entirely lost on them. If this is not possible, then provide a written summary, extra time during the same day to answer the student´s questions or find ways to teach the complete lesson in one sitting, or give them the start and ending first and then fill in the middle.

* Do not criticize your students for not paying attention or being lazy. If they look like they are daydreaming, they may be learning by listening or they can no longer understand the lesson and are trying to cope with the situation. They are actually working hard to understand what you are saying. If you talk too much and do not use any concrete pictures, examples of diagrams, you will destroy their ability to concentrate and make sense out of what you are saying.

* Build their self-esteem. Do not punish them for behaviors and learning styles that are normal for the right-brained student when learning.

* Answer their questions, but do not lecture nor criticize them for not understanding the lesson. The problem maybe in the teaching methods you are using. Find another approach. There are many other methods that work. Let them tell you what works best for them, perhaps it is to discuss the information orally or demonstrate it, rather than read about it.

* Instead of long written assignments, turn these tasks into projects that involve all the senses. These should be done on any large piece of colored paper to which they can add real objects, pictures, drawing, sketches, photos, words of explanation and an oral report. The dyslexic student learns best doing projects that involve seeing, listening, discussing and using their hands. All these ways of learning use the auditory, visual and kinesthetic senses.

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