How Dyslexia Affects Classroom Learning

Renata Perkins
Renata Perkins
M.Ed. in Advanced Literacy w/Reading Specialist Certification, Concordia University-Texas

The International Dyslexia Association defines dyslexia as a neurological learning disability. Dyslexia is one of the most common learning issues for both children and adults, and it manifests itself in people through poor word recognition, misspelling, and problems with word decoding abilities. It is a subtle and understated language deficiency that involves phonological coding deficits, deficient phonemic segmentation, poor vocabulary development, and trouble discriminating grammatical and syntactic differences among words and sounds. Researchers do not know the cause of dyslexia, but believe that it stems from multiple genetic and environmental risk factors, as well as their interplay.

Dyslexia covers a wide range of difficulties, and it is unique for each individual. Students with dyslexia have trouble reading and writing, even though he or she often has the intelligence and motivation needed to learn to read. Although these students have trouble understanding words they read, they usually can understand the same words when they are read aloud by someone else.

How to Identify a Struggling Dyslexic Student

Identifying a student with dyslexia may be difficult to do, since students learn at different paces. There are certain indicators that educators should monitor closely. Generally, signs show up as problems with accuracy and fluency in reading and spelling. For some kids, dyslexia can also impact writing, math, and language. A key sign of dyslexia in students is trouble decoding words. Decoding is the ability to match letters to sounds and then use that skill to read words accurately and fluently. Difficulty mastering this basic language skill can show up as early as preschool. It is important for educators to know that while dyslexia impacts learning, it’s not a problem of intelligence. Students with dyslexia are just as smart as their peers.

Ways to Make a Dyslexic Student Assimilate

Assisting with assimilation for students with dyslexia is vital. Educators should be aware that students with dyslexia learn best by following a structured system that uses strategies to explain the rules of the specific content. Multisensory approaches have always been recommended as effective teaching methods for the child with learning difficulties arising from dyslexia. Therefore, teachers should ensure that their students with dyslexia are seeing, saying, hearing and manipulating materials during their learning time. Just as with any student, those with dyslexia learn via specific learning styles. Teachers can often identify learning style preference by careful observation of choices individuals make, and through the behaviors they exhibit. This is important because identification of a student’s style can prompt instruction that matches how he/she prefers to learn. When their learning preferences are honored, students with dyslexia are able to demonstrate greater academic achievement and a stronger desire for learning.

Dyslexia is a learning disability that cannot be outgrown; however, there are specific supports, teaching approaches, and strategies to help students manage their challenges and thrive in the classroom and beyond.

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