Nothing can make a child fall behind in their coursework faster than reading difficulties. The traditional curriculum relies on reading ability. Therefore, struggling in this one crucial area can lead to serious academic trouble later on in life.
Between five and ten percent of Americans display symptoms of dyslexia. One would think we’d have found better ways to accommodate their needs!
For those in the teaching field, finding ways to reach these students is crucial. For parents, knowing what accommodations you can fight for provides hope and stability. Here are five adaptable accommodations for dyslexia that you should look for in any school your dyslexic child attends.
1. Orton-Gillingham Based Reading Instruction
One of the best accommodations for dyslexia that any school can have is Orton-Gillingham-based reading instruction. Indeed, we use this approach at Sage School to help our students gain confidence, self-advocate, and recognize their talents.
What Is the Orton-Gillingham Approach?
For those who are unfamiliar, let’s clarify some terms. The Orton-Gillingham teaching approach was specifically designed for the needs of dyslexic students. It incorporates a multisensory approach to teaching reading. This works better for some students than relying on verbal or rote memorization.
Orton-Gillingham breaks letters and sounds down into their simplest components. It teaches students how language works to help them build connections between letters and sounds.
The Orton-Gillingham approach hopes to increase understanding by teaching students how language and phonetics work together. Language builds upon itself. So, the idea that breaking it down into its simplest components for greater comprehension holds logical weight.
2. Asking for More Time
Another one of the most common accommodations for dyslexia is simply asking for more time. Students with dyslexia often struggle to complete reading-based assignments in the time allowed. Offering them extra time for reading and test completion will give them a chance to complete their work.
This applies not only to normal, in-classroom tests but standardized tests as well. Do not be afraid to pester your test proctors to grant your student or child the extensions they need. They deserve the proper time to finish working on these critical examinations.
3. Offer Auditory Learning Where Available
Another way that you can help your dyslexic students is by offering auditory learning wherever possible. Those who don’t study education may not know this, but there are four common learning styles. Those with dyslexia may struggle with the commonly-tested Reading/Writing learning style. However, they could excel when presented with the Auditory learning style.
Many common school books are available in digital format these days. There’s no reason that a school cannot provide an audiobook or text-to-speech format for any recent curricula. In addition, schools can provide oral testing to make it easier for dyslexic students to take examinations.
Teachers should also make every effort to provide oral directions alongside written ones. Then, repeat their instructions to check for comprehension. You might be surprised at the difference that asking someone if they understand can make.
4. Using Visual Aids Where Possible
Let’s circle back to the four major learning styles. Visual learners may benefit from having non-text-based visual aids in the classroom. Offering reading material in a larger font with less text can help dyslexic students better process the information. Another potential option is color-coding the material to make it easier to parse.
Educators may also encourage students to mark up their texts with sticky notes and highlighters. This can make it easier to sort out critical information. (Not to mention, it’s a crucial skill to have in collegiate-level study.) Failing that, a colored overlay has a similar filtering effect.
5. Allow Students Pre-Exposure to Material
While this may fall under the vein of asking for more time with the material, we feel it important enough to mention on its own. Sometimes, dyslexic students fear asking for much-needed help in the classroom because they don’t want to “look or sound dumb”. While attending a school with a nurturing and supportive environment can alleviate a lot of this, it won’t eliminate it.
To that end, if you allow dyslexic students to study the material in advance, they have at least a bit of familiarity with the upcoming information. Keeping a dyslexic student informed in advance of the next material and reading assignments can improve their confidence. This will allow them to ask the questions they need when it shows up during normal class periods.
Accommodations for Dyslexia Don’t End Off School Grounds
While the above five accommodations for dyslexia are important for schools, don’t forget that the journey doesn’t end there. You should be willing to offer your child support and further accommodations for their dyslexia in the home. One common tool is reading the material with them or finding something that they enjoy reading. Don’t leave reading to be associated with work and drudgery.
Plus, as a parent, you should never underestimate the value of well-placed praise. Many students who struggle with learning disabilities may also struggle with their self-esteem. This means they require more emotional support. Be their pillar of strength where you can!
If Your School Refuses Your Accommodations…
Requesting these accommodations can be a trial in and of itself. Many public education institutions struggle to find ways to test dyslexic students. Often, they will lump them in with the rest of the underfunded Special Education department.
Don’t forget that you do have legal recourse in the event that your school denies your accommodations. However, you may also benefit from considering a more specialized institution for your child’s needs.
We Are Here to Support You
We here at Sage School are proud to offer a host of accommodations for dyslexia. In fact, our entire educational philosophy is geared towards ensuring the success of children who may struggle with reading. It is our goal and solemn mission to help every child learn to unlock their unique gifts and potential through learning to read.