Last month, I was surprised when one of the teachers in our Dyslexia for Teachers course said that a writing sample couldn’t lead anyone to suspect a student had dyslexia because dyslexia was a reading disorder.

 

Of course, that statement is wrong.

 

 

 

KNOWING MORE THAN THEY CAN EASILY SHOW BY TESTS OR WRITING

Perhaps the most common way that dyslexic students come to the notice of their teachers is by unevenness in their abilities or what some refer to as a “spiky profile.” They may have strong reasoning abilities and make thoughtful observations and comments during class, but their written work may may be far lower than their knowledge from trouble getting their ideas on the page, the need for extended time, and spelling and grammatical challenges.

 

SLOWER PROCESSING TIMES ON TESTS

Especially in the early school years, dyslexic students can come to attention because they are slower than their non-dyslexic peers. Slow processing times can be due to a number of factors – for instance, increased time to read questions or re-read them in the event they misread or skip small words.

As a group, dyslexic students may need more time to convert their feelings, images, and perceptions into words and organize what they want to say or write. Because as many as 3 out of 4 dyslexic students are not formally identified in school, that means they are not provided with the extended time accommodations that they may need for tests and getting their ideas down on paper.

 

TROUBLE COMPLETING HOMEWORK

For most dyslexic students, the middle and high school years can become overwhelming with the quantity of reading and homework assigned. If students aren’t formally identified or if they haven’t been granted accommodations in the amounts of homework assigned, they can fall increasingly behind and secondary behaviors like school avoidance or somatic disorders (stomach aches, headaches) can occur.

 

ROTE MEMORY AND MATH

Difficulties with rote memory and math facts are other problems that can bring dyslexic students to attention in classroom work. Dyslexic students may be strong reasoners and knowledgeable about various subjects but struggle disproportionately with rote memorization tasks (for instance memorizing state capitals or math facts).

In the case of math facts, students with difficulties might nevertheless be quite proficient with math problem solving tasks if allowed to work with a calculator or math facts sheet; by some estimates, nearly half of people with dyslexia are also dyscalculic.

Sequencing difficulties may also be seen among some dyslexics – and dyslexia can overlap with dyspraxia as well as ADD or ADHD.

 

DYSLEXIC STRENGTHS – DIVERGENT AND ALTERNATIVE THINKING

Some dyslexic strengths can also bring students to the attention of their teachers. Strengths in divergent thinking and preferences toward unconventional ways of solving problems may also be ways that dyslexic students may stand out from their non-dyslexic peers.

Of course to definitely identify dyslexia, formal testing is the gold standard; still, it’s good to keep in mind the ways that dyslexia may present – and the breadth of these differences in schools.

 

 

 

Dyslexia | Dyslexic Advantage