Dyslexia is a learning disability that can make daily activities, such as reading, spelling and directional tasks, very challenging. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, "Although the disorder varies from person to person, common characteristics among people with dyslexia are difficulty with spelling, phonological processing (the manipulation of sounds), and/or rapid visual-verbal responding" (NINDS, 2009). Adults who exhibit symptoms of dyslexia may have been untreated as children, or, according to NINDS, may have suffered a brain injury. Dealing with dyslexia can be an arduous process, but with strong commitment and systematic strategies, it is possible to lessen its severity and to overcome it.
Relearn sounds and letter recognition. Because many adults with dyslexia have been struggling for years, there may be dramatic holes in their phonemic awareness. Examples of well-researched, multisensory programs are Orton-Gillingham, Wordswork and Lindamood-Bell. The programs may be suggested four to five times a week for six to eight weeks, but participants are likely to see a dramatic change in reading and spelling abilities. Lynn Flowers, an assistant professor in the Department of Neurology at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, conducted a study where dyslexic adults received eight weeks of phonics-based instruction. "With about 112 hours of phonics-based instruction, adults with dyslexia had significant improvements in reading and changes in brain activity while reading" (News 8 Austin, 2005).
Use multisensory strategies to connect to and remember information. Because people with dyslexia may have trouble connecting to information that is received in a visual or auditory way, it may be necessary to incorporate touch and movement in the process. For example, use your fingers to trace a phone number on a table, instead of just repeating it.
Develop compensation strategies. Highlight information as you read, or write down a summary after each paragraph. Some adults with dyslexia don't use the words "left," or "right," but instead focus on directions, such as north, south, east or west. Color-coding is also a very useful strategy and helps to organize important information. Use songs or jingles to keep track of number information you have trouble recalling. Finally, visualize patterns and words in your head before you repeat them; this helps you to remember new information, (www.dyslexia-adults.com/a9.html).
Consider a technological aid. Systems such as a GPS, audio recorders, text-to-speech software, or a hand-held spell check or dictionary can help make day-to-day challenges less daunting.
- Dyslexia has nothing to do with intelligence. People with dyslexia have normal intelligence but process information in a different way.
Sarahlynne Davis has been a professional educator since 2003. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and government from Skidmore College, a Master of Education in literacy from the University of San Diego and an English teaching license from Indiana Wesleyan University.