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Dyslexia is not the result of a visual problems; it does not involve the reversing of letters or words.
Research has shown that it results from a genetically based difficulty in establishing awareness of elements of linguistic structure.
Children with this problem have difficulty recognizing the individual sounds of words.
This interferes with the development of decoding skills and ultimately, with visual word recognition.
Reading is typically slow and halting, with marked difficulty identifying relatively unfamiliar words
At the college level, students may have developed compensatory skills in decoding, but visual word recognition remains effortful, inefficient and inaccurate.
Comprehension may be compromised by the fact that attention and higher level cognitive resources may be needed for recognizing individual words.
Impact on Classroom Performance and Writing
Poor handwriting is common (though not invariably present).
Writing may be slow and effortful, either because of the demands of spelling or because of concurrent dysgraphia.
Punctuation and capitalization may be flawed.
Spelling is almost always compromised.
Some students may rely primarily on phonological strategies (spelling words as they sound).
Others may seem to base their spelling more on word appearance.
Syllables may be omitted due to processing load imposed by spelling (or to a concurrent attention difficulty).
“Learned-isms” are common: misapplying particular spelling phenomena (e.g., drum spelled as drumb on analogy with the spellings, dumb, thumb, numb).
Vocabulary knowledge is often restricted due to limited exposure to literature.
Vocabulary used in writing may be simplified to avoid words that represent spelling challenges
Knowledge of phrasal and sentence structure may be very limited
Note-taking in class or from reading may be impeded by these difficulties
Interaction with Students
Accurate spelling isn’t achieved through memorization. It requires abstract linguistic (“orthographic”) representations that these students have difficulty developing. Sheer memorization of spellings is a very unproductive use of learning energy. Be judicious in penalizing students for misspellings unless they have had a reasonable opportunity to use human or technological spelling check.
Interventions for spelling difficulty:
Help student learn to use spell-check effectively.
Mark misspelled words, but let student make corrections.
Draw student’s attention to important spelling contrasts (e.g., common heterographic homophones (e.g., there/their; here/hear)
Punctuation and capitalization conventions can also be very resistant to explicit instruction. These are not the result of carelessness or “lack of effort” in previous learning.
Mark errors and explain principles, but don’t expect a memorization approach to work wonders.
Suggest strategies for deciding where punctuation should be used, but don’t expect quick resolution
Proof written work with student, allowing her/him to find errors with guidance and decide on fixes
Coach use of more varied vocabulary
Encourage student to choose interesting words first and worry about spelling later.
Draw attention to word structure and morphological relationships to build linguistic awareness
Coach syntactic awareness, with an emphasis on practical understanding of language structure (without technical terminology or formalisms).