Accommodations 101: Dyslexia

Kids with dyslexia enter the classroom with a set of unique learning challenges that neuro-typical kids don’t have to worry about. 

That’s where accommodations come in. 

Accommodations are variations in how the child is presented with information, test-taking or writing and other tasks in the classroom.

What are some examples of dyslexia accommodations

Level playing field

Kids with dyslexia often have reduced word amount on their spelling test.  This is because they have to work extra hard (way harder than their typical peers) to memorize how the spell the words. 

So they memorize them and even if they get a 100 on the test, guess what?

If you give them the same test the following week, don’t be shocked if they totally bomb it.  Correct spelling just doesn’t easily stick with them because their brains jumble everything.

For example, this week while reviewing spelling words, my daughter wrote “commeetti” instead of committee. 

She looked at it again and again and still couldn’t see that it was misspelled. 

All of the letters were there, but her brain was showing them to her as being correct instead of jumbled.  When I pointed it out to her, she finally “saw” the mistake and practiced it in the right way. 

She was able to remember the correct spelling on the test.

However, next week she probably won’t remember the correct order to write the letters in even though she was able to memorize it long enough to get it right on the test. 

Memorizing letter sequences just doesn’t “stick” with her long-term like it sticks with typical people.

NASA Apollo 12 Pete Conrad had dyslexia
dyslexia at NASA

Dyslexia throws up some huge roadblocks for kids in school.  Having dyslexia puts a child at an immediate disadvantage in the classroom. 

It’s a lot like having an electrical box with some wires that are hooked up going to the wrong places and the electrical box is being overloaded.  You figure out what needs to happen so that the electrical box is no longer being overloaded because you don’t want it to burn up due to forcing it to do something it isn’t wired to do.

We have an RV that requires a 50amp hookup, but the 30amp hookup looks just the same to me, so I asked my husband why can’t we use the 30amp hook up? 

He just looked at me like I should know that just because they look alike, they have totally different loads they can handle.   Obviously a 30amp hookup would struggle to keep up with the RV’s 50amp load.

Same with a kid who has dyslexia.

Accommodations simply help level out the amount and type of work the wiring in their brain can process so they aren’t in overload mode.

Is it cheating?

Do you turn in hand-written reports at work, or do you create the reports on the computer? 

Do you use spell check before you turn in a report at work?

To make your job extra challenging and really upset your boss, go ahead and Instead of using email at work to communicate, go ahead and start writing your boss hand-written notes everyday.  See how that goes over.

Do you use a calculator to help you determine your monthly budget at home?  Are you cheating by using technology to help you accomplish tasks?

Of course not!

We use technology and helpful aids everyday in real life to help us be more efficient, correct, innovative, and to help us save time.   

dyslexia isn't caused by lack of effort

What are some typical accommodations for dyslexia?

  • decreased written questions/work
  • verbal instructions
  • repeat instructions
  • scribe for notes/no copying from board
  • oral spelling tests
  • oral responses
  • don’t count off points for spelling errors other than spelling test
  • alternative projects in lieu of written report
  • use of assistive technologies (calculator, text-to-speech, spell/grammar check)
  • preferred seating
  • alternative furniture arrangement
  • additional time
  • allow for breaks
  • use of highlighters
  • pair with peer for support
  • chunking
  • do not call on for reading in front of class

Kids with dyslexia are simply using technology and aids to help them be more efficient, correct, and innovative so their brains can keep up. 

Not those types of tools causes them to lag behind everyone else and causes severe frustration, leaving the child with dyslexia thinking they’re just too stupid to learn.  In fact, they just learn differently.

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