Thanks, Dr. Maryanne Wolf for this lovely quote in KQED’s Mind Shift Blog:
“It is never the fault of the child, but rather the responsibility of us who teach to find methods that work for that child.”
Teaching students with dyslexia is a lot like cultivating hothouse flowers – growing conditions are very specific if you want young flowers to bloom.
In the article link above, Dr. Wolf mentions the importance of phonemic awareness, reading fluency, and comprehension, but of course optimal teaching for dyslexia is much more. Students need to be able to spend their days at school discovering and developing something that they’re good at, and they also they also need to be taught in the ways the remember and learn best.
In Dyslexic Advantage’s Dyslexia at School Survey (if you have students with dyslexia in a US public school and haven’t yet taken it, please do!), our analysis of respondents at the end of August showed the following:
Over 50% of the parents of dyslexic students across the US reported challenges in reading, writing, spelling, math, processing speed, and certain aspects of memory and executive function. Dyslexia experts have long realized that dyslexia commonly presents with academic challenges that go beyond reading. Notably, too, over 50% of students had strengths in problem solving and creativity.
These findings alone suggest that an appropriate education for dyslexic students should recognize both of these realities – support and accommodation for most dyslexic students in the areas of reading, writing, spelling, math, processing speed, and tasks requiring certain types of memory and executive function, but also strengths in creativity and problem solving.
We have to get this right. There are common patterns of challenges and strengths that exist in school-age students with dyslexia. Most students need differentiation and / or accommodation for their challenges, but just as vital if not more so, are the strengths and talents of these amazing students that should be recognized and nurtured. Many dyslexic students’ intelligence is grossly underestimated; they may be given little opportunity or time to develop what could bring them career success as adults.
Soon we’ll be releasing some of the talks from this year’s Conference on Dyslexia and Innovation, but you’ll find many of the stories familiar – My situation seemed bleak, until I found what I really could do and do well…