According to the International Dyslexia Association, dyslexia is characterized by “difficulties with accurate and /or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction.” (Adopted by the IDA Board of Directors, Nov. 12, 2002) Consequences may include difficulty with reading comprehension, which can limit growth of vocabulary and background knowledge. Recent studies also show that people diagnosed with dyslexia typically process information in a different area of the brain than people who are not dyslexic.
Since the enactment of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), many students are currently receiving instruction more tailored to their needs. However, adults who are living with dyslexia today may not have received the proper instruction in reading in order to overcome their challenges with written text.
Don’t worry! A wealth of evidence shows that intensive, high quality literacy instruction can help students who are struggling build the skills they need to succeed in high school and beyond (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2006). In other words, it is never too late. Older students with dyslexia, including adults, can benefit from specialized reading and writing instruction, but it is essential for them to find an instructor who is highly trained to successfully teach individuals with dyslexia.
So, reader… while you are busy finding the proper instructor, you can still make improvements to your reading ability with compensatory strategies. These are methods for which you are able to compensate for significant difficulties in a way that would provide you with a more satisfying quality of life. For example, a compensatory strategy for overcoming difficulty with written text can be listening to books on audio recordings.
Clarann Goldring, Ph.D., is a licensed and practicing psychologist, and maintains a diagnosis of Dyslexia and ADD. Below are some of her “Practical Tips for Success” for adults living with dyslexia: (From http://www.dyslexia-ca.org/pdf/files/clarann%20handout.pdf, 2006)
- ACCEPT YOUR LEARNING DIFFERENCE AND ADAPT ACCORDINGLY. The key for unleashing the potential within each person is through a set of specific coping strategies and techniques.
1) RECOGNIZING the disability was the key beginning point. Denial leads to continued failure and moving ahead is impossible.
2) PERSISTENCE – THE NEED TO WORK HARDER THAN OTHERS – Accepting both the negative and the positive.
3) UNDERSTANDING YOUR STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESS – What is my disability and how does it effect my everyday world?
4) ACTION – All the recognition, acceptance and understanding in the world are useless without a conscious decision to work towards a goal.
Understand your Strengths and Weaknesses and Adapt with Compensations
- DEAL WITH ANXIETY, OVERWHELM, or PROCRASTINATION
- Take a Deep Breath – slow down.
- Break it Down into smaller parts.
- Make a Plan – organize the activity
- Self Talk:
I am unable to spell but I can create great ideas for a story.
I am unable to remember the detailed information but
I can tape it, write it down and with time I can fully understand it.”
~Admire the fact that you can work through the struggle.
- MAKE STRATEGIES FOR MEMORIZING MATERIAL
(use diagrams, cards, tape recorders, visualization, auditory associations, mnemonics)
- If someone gives you information – How do you put it in your long term memory?
- Organize the information into concrete usable information.
- Multi-sensory – see it, hear it, do it (kinesthetic).
READ IT, SAY IT, WALK WITH IT, BOUNCE WITH IT, MAKE PICTURES WITH IT
(Note: why do I forget? I am not interested – not my choice to remember. For this moment I need to be interested.
Relax – crawl into this material for a moment. Make it a challenge!)
Laughter is another key to happiness. Having a sense of humor about your difficulties may also help you deal with some of the more challenging tasks, when feelings of frustration take over. For a chuckle, please visit: http://www.cartoonstock.com/directory/d/dyslexia.asp (beware – some of them are pretty silly!).
Living with dyslexia doesn’t have to be so hard. If you can have patience and work hard, you will succeed in making improvements to your reading and comprehension abilities. Please visit the resources below for more information about dyslexia, and for access to communities of others successfully living a satisfying life, with dyslexia.
Clarann Goldring, Ph.D., 2006: “Practical Tips for Success”
International Dyslexia Association:
Forum and Resource for Individuals with Dyslexia, created by Individuals with Dyslexia: http://www.dyslexia-adults.com/a6.html
Melissa M. McClung, MS, CF-SLP