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Dyslexia is a type of learning disability that alters the way the brain processes written material, causing reading, writing and/or spelling to be a challenge. Dyslexia varies from person to person. Most dyslexic students have average to above average intelligence and a reading level significantly low for their age.
The treatment of dyslexia is more successful at lower grades than at the middle or high school level. Left untreated, the dyslexic child becomes more and more frustrated, loses self-esteem, dislikes reading, and may act out due to his frustrations. Thus, it's important to diagnose and treat dyslexia as early as possible.
A child suspected to have dyslexia needs to be referred to the Committee on Special Education (CSE) for an evaluation . If the child's reading, writing, and/or spelling is significantly below grade level and his IQ is average or above for his age, he will most likely qualify to be classified as "Learning Disabled". The CSE will need to develop an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) to address the student's needs. The following guidelines should be considered:
- On the child's desk or inside of his locker, tape a daily checklist of what he needs to take to each class
- Provide an outline of your lesson plans in bullet form
- Information for parents should be given to the child in writing, not verbally (i.e. no swimming tomorrow due to a broken heater)
- Provide an index card containing math terms, definitions and samples
- Have the child verbally explain his approach to answering a math word problem
- Check to see that the child has written down the homework requirements correctly
- Provide copies of student notes. Encourage the child to highlight key points as you go over the notes.
- Encourage good study skills and organizational skills
- Break down large tasks into smaller steps
- Allow the use of spell check for assignments that don't measure spelling
- Utilize fun games that teach spelling rules
- When writing on the whiteboard, leave information up long enough to make sure the child has the opportunity to copy it
- In lieu of a written report, provide hands-on options
- For younger students, check binders and folders for neatness and organization
- Type your teacher worksheets, rather than handwriting them
In additional to the above strategies, the CSE needs to consider test modifications. The student might qualify for test read, extended time, answers recorded, alternate location, or spelling exemption. At the annual review time, it's important to review the need for test modifications. If the child is making significant gains, he might not qualify for certain modifications. On the other hand, if the gap between grade level and actual ability broadens, then additional modifications might be appropriate to consider.
If treatment of dyslexia focuses on the specific learning problems that the child has, and the child has a desire to overcome or compensate for his disability, great learning strides can occur. It's also important to encourage and reinforce the child's strengths. This will help the student to have better success later in life as well as he goes to college or enters the workforce.