Touch typing for dyslexics

Touch typing for dyslexics
Read and Spell Blog
Touch typing for dyslexics

For a significant number of children and adults, developing strong literacy skills requires overcoming the challenges posed by specific learning differences, such as dyslexia. Dyslexia affects reading, writing and spelling abilities but can also cause individuals to suffer from low self-esteem and lack confidence in the classroom.

While it is something people have for life, technology and strategy use can make language-based activities easier. For example, typing on a computer gives children and adults access to spell-checkers and helpful text-to-speech tools.

Mnemonic devices aid with learning the spelling of hard words. Memorizing high frequency vocabulary reduces the cognitive load involved in reading. Additionally, dyslexics who have had training in touch typing can reinforce phonics knowledge, use muscle memory to learn word spellings, and facilitate the translation of ideas into written language.

This renders the writing process less frustrating and makes composing written work more fluid and effective.

What is dyslexia

What is dyslexia? 

Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that can range in severity but is present in up to 10% of the population. It often affects an individual’s ability to split words into their component sounds, or phonemes, which in turn affects reading and spelling skills.

No two individuals will have the same symptoms but phonological issues are present in 75% of all cases. As dyslexia is genetic, it is more commonly found in individuals who have a parent who struggles with dyslexia.

It is important to remember that dyslexia has nothing to do with intelligence. Dyslexic individuals are often extremely bright and creative learners who simply experience varying degrees of difficulty in reading and writing. Learning through traditional classroom activities is thus much harder and they are at a disadvantage for achieving success in most areas of the school curriculum.

Because of their negative experiences with learning, they may also lack motivation and develop low self-esteem and a poor self-image that follows them well into their adult life.

Early detection is key

Dyslexia tends to become apparent at around age 5, 6 and 7 when children first begin learning how to read and write.

It's common for kids without specific learning difficulties to have trouble with English spelling due to its highly irregular nature and the number of sound mappings that can be made to the same letter and letter combinations. Nonetheless, repeat exposure and concentrated study will eventually help young writers master basic spelling.

This is not necessarily the case for the dyslexic child who may spell a word correctly one day and incorrectly the next. There may be a tendency to miss letters and teachers may also see particular difficulty with high frequency vocabulary, such as the Dolch List of service words.

Sounding out words in early reading is problematic and written work may not reflect a child’s true vocabulary. This is due to a fear of making mistakes and uncertainty about spelling.

This inconsistency in performance can sometimes cause dyslexic students to be labelled as “lazy” or told they are “not trying hard enough” at school. Left untreated, dyslexia can prevent comprehension of written texts and stall vocabulary growth.

It can also lead to learning being perceived in a negative light because it causes stress and frustration for the child. This may make students act out or exhibit other behavioral problems. That’s why the earlier dyslexia is recognized, the better. 

Strategies and tips for children and adults who have dyslexia

Tips for success

Today, individuals with dyslexia can take advantage of a number of self-study courses, targeted strategy instruction and private tutoring to help them learn the skills they need to overcome reading challenges. It may be as simple as providing more opportunities to over-learn material or learning how to effectively implement spelling, comprehension and memory strategies.

Experts recommend the adjustment of classroom activities by teachers, to render lessons more accessible. Mastering touch typing can make a difference too.

For more information on helping dyslexic students succeed at home and in the classroom, have a read through these articles on spelling strategies for dyslexia, dyslexia and foreign language learning and teaching students with dyslexia.

How the right typing course can help

In touch typing, ideas flow freely through the fingertips and onto the screen. There is no distraction caused by forming letters. Spelling mistakes can easily be made and corrected without the stigma of erasure marks or messy crossing out.

In a similar way, text can be reorganized to enhance meaning. Writing multiple drafts is facilitated given the ease of correcting electronic text. Typing courses also expose individuals to ample examples of written language, meaning they become more familiar with these words. Repeat exposure makes it easier to spell and sight-read vocabulary. 

Children who learn to touch type via a multisensory course like Touch-type Read and Spell, have phonics skills reinforced at the same time as they learn how to navigate a keyboard.

That’s because letters and words are read aloud, displayed on the screen and then typed by the student. This involves muscle memory in the learning process, which is great for kinesthetic learners too.

TIP: Did you know children can begin learning to touch type as soon as their hands can comfortably sit on the keyboard—learn more about typing for kids.

Learn more

The TTRS course is broken down into discrete modules so a lesson can be repeated as many times as is necessary for the student to master the material. Incremental learning makes it easier to build confidence and self-esteem. Students receive praise for completed milestones, no matter how small the achievement. 

Dysgraphia, dyspraxia and ADHD

As with dysgraphia, dyspraxia is a condition that impacts fine motor skills and can make handwriting difficult and even painful. It can also affect planning skills and cause children to fall behind their peers at school. Sometimes dyslexia and dyspraxia show up together.

This is also the case for ADHD, which may result in similar behavioral problems as children become frustrated with schoolwork. In these cases, it is often recommended that students complete school assignments by typing on a computer.

Not only is it less frustrating and easier, but their work tends to be much neater, which hmeans it is better received by teachers. Learn more about helping children with dyspraxia in the classroom.

Adults with dyslexia can learn typing

It’s never too late

Dyslexia can follow an individual throughout their life and cause them to miss out on career advancement and further education opportunities. In fact, many adults who did not complete their high school education may be struggling with an undiagnosed learning difficulty.

Learning touch typing the TTRS way is an excellent first step toward improving literacy skills. It is a subtle and less embarrassing approach for older learners. It can also help adults earn recognition and promotions at work, and open up doors to new jobs

Learn more about adult basic skills programs, helping adult learners develop literacy skills and spelling tips for adults.

Have a story about dyslexia and touch typing to contribute? Join the discussion in the comments!

Vivian, Homeschooler of a child with dyslexia

Read full testimonial

For learners who struggle with dyslexia

TTRS is a program designed to get children and adults with dyslexia touch-typing, with additional support for reading and spelling.

About the Author 

Meredith Cicerchia

Meredith Cicerchia is a freelance writer who covers topics ranging from speech and language difficulties and specific learning differences, to strategies for teaching English as a second and additional language. She is also an education consultant, an applied linguistics researcher and a former teaching affiliate at the University of Nottingham.
Reviewed by 

Chris Freeman

Chris Freeman has a BA cum laude in Sociology, and has undertaken post grad work in education and educational technology. She spent 20+ years working in public health and in the charity sector.

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