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What is Dyslexia?

Something lexical relates to the words of a language. Dys in front of it says that something is wrong. Dyslexia is a disorder that many people associate with difficulty in spelling words. It is much more than this.

The British Dyslexia Association say:

Dyspraxia can make things worse for some people with dyslexia. It is a dysfunction of doing (praxis) things, caused by seeing and doing not being coordinated enough. It can lead to being accident prone or apparent clumsiness, disorientation and/or difficulty with hand movements among other things.

Dyslexia is a disorder which causes difficulties with the basic literacy skills of reading, writing and spelling. Dyslexia can also affect many areas of an individual's everyday life, from remembering appointments and following discussions, through to generally organising one's life and work.

Many dyslexics, despite their impaired ability to read and write, have excelled within particular areas of society.

Specific Learning Difficulties is another term for dyslexia.

Specific Learning Difficulties involves visual, auditory, and motor processing. That is, it involves the way we coordinate seeing, hearing and doing. The basic difficulties can affect performance in different areas. These commonly include:

sentence structure
organisation/structure of ideas
oral presentation
word omission
proofreading (inability to `spot` errors)

These problems are accentuated under time conditions.

How Tutors and Lecturers can help
(A guide from the Language and Literacy Unit: Southwark College)

Present your material in a variety of ways:

Move from particular examples to general concepts as well as from the general concept to specific examples.

Emphasise 'right brain' learning experience. For example visual-spatial experience imagery, music and holistic approaches.

Discuss the how and why of learning with students:

Explain why you are doing a particular activity - what particular skills you hope to develop.

Discuss with students how they intend to go about learning something - what specific strategies may work for them.

Help students realise the necessity and value of practising to consolidate learning and acquire a new skill

Encourage people to make their own meaningful connections to what they are learning.

Encourage students to take charge of their learning:

Offer a variety of methods and approaches for them to select or discover which works best for them.

Set up situations where they can explain or demonstrate things to each other, work in pairs or groups, select activities or projects, set goals.

Stress self-checking and give plenty of opportunity for self-assessment.

Introduce learning through content:

Discuss language particular to your subject: vocabulary, new terminology, expression.

Break down processes into steps with opportunity for feedback to check understanding and develop language skills.

Encourage students to ask questions: questions are a way of checking our hypothesis about what is being presented.

Give students opportunities to observe models, examples of what they should be trying to do.

Offer specific help with:

Be specific and practical about the written material that students are to do. Write everything down clearly. Do not expect students to remember.
    Focus on:
  • writing conventions - introductions, sub-headings. conclusions etc.
  • identifying main points.
  • relevant versus irrelevant data.
  • selection and inclusion of quotations and references.
  • ordering points and making transitions between points.
  • presentation.
  • make sure instructions are clear and written down for student to check.
  • be explicit in expectations.
  • help students to formulate questions.
  • be clear in your own communications.
  • give oral assessment opportunities.
  • be aware of the extra time, effort and concentration the dyslexic student needs to bring to tasks involving written language.
  • some students can only generalise from lots of specific examples and practice.
  • translating three dimensions to two dimensions and vice-versa is a complex skill.
  • when a student makes an error in a sequence you may need to retrace all the steps with them rather than just point out where they went wrong.
  • some students may be easily distracted by noise, activity or visual "clutter".
  • dyslexic students may need more time to absorb information.
  • try to break up learning sessions, discussions, etc. to allow this processing to happen.
  • the final stage of learning is being able to 'teach' some else - make opportunities for students to do this (through talking, writing, demonstrations, etc.).
The way you present your material to be learned will directly influence the learning skills developed by your students.

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Dyslexia Support at Middlesex
University Dyslexia Support at Middlesex University


Dyslexia: definitions,


Marking discussed

Specific Learning Difficulties

right and wrong and
tips from others

Ways to help