Not everyone finds spelling easy. Children and adults, native and non-native speakers, and individuals with and without learning difficulties alike can all struggle with the irregularity of spelling in English.
A guest post by John Hicks
As a parent of a daughter with dyslexia looking back over six years since her diagnosis, I can remember my daughter’s difficulty with reading words and spelling and how that got in the way of her being able to enjoy learning at school. Let me tell you about the signs that indicated that our child was dyslexic, how I was able to get her through the school system, and how she learned to thrive.
Visual processing disorders can interrupt an individual’s ability to understand and navigate written symbols, which may cause problems with math/maths and learning to read at school. They’re not due to vision problems or any issues with the eyes, but rather with how the brain interprets visual information.
On the other hand, dyslexia is a separate condition that often makes it challenging to break spoken language down into its component parts. This in turn complicates reading and spelling. While the two conditions can look similar, they have different causes and thus children and adults who have one and not the other will require a different set of strategies and accommodations.
You may also encounter the term visual dyslexia, which refers to individuals who have a type of dyslexia that is not related to phonological processing – learn more about the different kinds of dyslexia. In visual dyslexia, a child experiences a type of visual processing disorder. He or she may be prone to reversing or transposing letters, have difficulty locating words on the page, and have a tendency to skip over them. In comparison to phonological dyslexia, rhyming ability and language recall are less likely to be affected.
Dyslexia is a language-based specific learning difficulty that can impact on reading and spelling skills in children and adults. While the effects of dyslexia are more visible where the processing of written language is concerned, it’s not uncommon for kids with dyslexia to be late-talkers. This is because a child with dyslexia may have poor phonological awareness – or an inability to break words down into their component sounds.
If the dyslexia is co-occurring with a motor skills difficulty like dyspraxia, then production of speech sounds may be further delayed. Individuals with dyslexia can also have trouble with sound sequencing, substitutions, and rhyming. Word recall may be problematic. This ‘tip-of-the-tongue’ phenomenon can lead to misspeaking and halted speech. It can also generally cause embarrassment and anxiety, which disrupt speech fluency and overtime may result in low confidence, and low self-esteem.
What’s important to remember is that speaking difficulties caused by dyslexia are not an indication of low-intelligence. There are also plenty of strategies and accommodations children and adults can use to overcome fluency issues at home, at school and in the workplace.
Salma Hayek, Keira Knightley and Tom Cruise are some of Hollywood’s brightest stars – and they have dyslexia. Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Leonardo da Vinci, and Pablo Picasso possessed some of the greatest minds and talents in history and they were dyslexic.
Successful entrepreneurs like Richard Branson and Steve Jobs made use of their dyslexic brains to build billion-dollar companies, and George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and JFK left an indelible mark on history as presidents of the United States of America, regardless of their spelling ability.
No matter where you go in the world, you will find dyslexic individuals who have achieved success, despite experiencing early difficulties with reading and writing.
Dyslexia is a specific learning difference that can affect spelling and reading skills in children and adults. Students with dyslexia are not less intelligent than their peers, they just process language in a different way. Unfortunately, most school instruction is heavily dependent on reading and writing, thus from an early age, learners with dyslexia are at risk for falling behind or experiencing a mismatch between intellectual potential and performance in the classroom. This is especially true at the end of primary/elementary school when students are graduating from learning to read to reading to learn.
It’s also one reason why dyslexic individuals will typically benefit from having access to strategy training and classroom accommodations that facilitate language use. These accommodations might come in the form of additional time on assessment measures or alternative approaches to assignments.
Quite often they include using a laptop for note-taking, essay-writing, and homework. They may also extend to the use of smartphone and tablet apps that exercise the cognitive abilities which underpin literacy skills success.
But it’s still up to teachers, tutors and parents to select the right programs and apps to ensure a dyslexic learner achieves the maximum benefit from his or her technology use. That’s why we’ve put together this list with information on the skills that learners with dyslexia should be targeting and some of the most popular apps available today.
A learning difficulty is a condition that can cause an individual to experience problems in a traditional classroom learning context. It may interfere with literacy skills development and math/maths and can also affect memory, ability to focus and organizational skills. A child or adult with a learning difficulty may require additional time to complete assignments at school and can often benefit from strategy instruction and classroom accommodations, such as material delivered in special fonts or the ability to use a computer to take notes.
No two individuals with a learning difficulty are exactly alike and many conditions, such as dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia, exist on a wide-spectrum. There is also dyspraxia, a motor-skills difficulty that can affect a learner’s ability to write by hand, and may impact on planning skills. It’s not uncommon for learning difficulties and motor-skills difficulties to co-present. For example, dyslexia and dyspraxia, or ADD/ADHD and dyspraxia can occur together.
Studies suggest that 1 in 10 adults in the US and UK has dyslexia, a learning difference that can impact on working memory, reading, writing and spelling skills. In 6% of cases the dyslexia may be mild to moderate, but the remaining 4% of people can struggle with a severe form that interrupts literacy skills development when early support is not put in place.
Dyslexia is still called a learning disability in some countries, but in the UK it is increasingly referred as a specific learning difference. The reason for this is dyslexia does not make you less able than your peers, it is simply a different way of processing language in the brain.
It’s also not related to intelligence, but dyslexia can prevent an individual from being successful due to the central role of reading and writing in mainstream education. Moreover, having earned poor marks at school or losing a job because of literacy skills can limit career options for adults, and may affect an individual’s confidence and self-esteem for years to come.
Fortunately, most problems can be overcome, even in adulthood, with the right literacy intervention, strategies and accommodations.
There a number of reasons why a child may need to attend a special education program at school. Special education can help learners who struggle with developmental delays, such as dyspraxia or apraxia of speech, and/or children who experience challenges with literacy and numeracy because of a specific learning difference. Learners with autism can benefit.
It may also be that a physical impairment is affecting a student’s ability to learn in the same way as his or her peers and specific accommodations and materials are necessary. The basic requirement for a program to be considered special education is that it must address the individual learner’s needs in a way that wouldn’t be possible in a mainstream classroom. But just because a child receives extra support, it doesn't mean they are less intelligent or talented than their peers.
Many kids have trouble with math, but some students find it more difficult than others. These may be otherwise bright children who have a keen sense of logic and reasoning but still perform poorly on homework, tests, and quizzes.
Over time, repeated underperformance in math can cause a student to become demotivated and believe he or she is “stupid” or not good at the subject.
Moreover, as math is cumulative, falling behind might mean a learner misses out on much of what is taught for the rest of the school term. Having basic math skills is important, regardless of the career an individual chooses to pursue.
That’s why it’s key to identify issues early on. Given the right combination of classroom accommodations and learning strategies, every student can achieve his or her full potential in math.