23 Nov 5 simple ways to support someone with dyslexia at home, at school, or in the workplace.
Give simple instructions.
Give instructions one at a time, in the order of tasks, and use the fewest possible words. For example, don’t say ‘I forgot to say, before you email the client, make sure you have checked over the proposal and had it signed off by management.’ Instead, say ‘Please get the proposal approved by management, then email it to the client.’
Why? People with dyslexia can have poor auditory memory and working memory problems. This makes it harder to remember long, complicated instructions, so keep language short and simple where possible. This is good practice for teaching and managing in any case!
Allow more time to carry out tasks.
Whether its answering a question or finalising a piece of written work, it will generally take people with dyslexia a little longer to formulate their responses. It’s often worth the wait though, so be patient!
Why? People with dyslexia can have difficulties with processing speed. This does not mean they lack intelligence, it just means they need you to pause a little longer after asking a question.
Use visual information to support verbal information.
When speaking to people with dyslexia, it is a good idea to use examples, graphs and pictures etc. It also helps to demonstrate or have the person perform a task, rather than simply explain in words.
Why? Providing visual information can support auditory memory skills and working memory skills for people with dyslexia.
Allow multimodal delivery of information.
Where possible, allow people with dyslexia to use modes other than written presentation to show their ideas. Allowing people with dyslexia to present their ideas verbally, develop graphs, mind maps, pictures, videos and make artwork can be a great way to maximise their input.
Why? Almost all people with dyslexia will be able to show far more capability in modes other than writing. Writing tends to be a particularly difficult task for those with dyslexia, and many people with dyslexia say they prefer more visual modes, so if you really want to exploit their intelligence, allow them to communicate in other ways.
Allow the use of assistive technology.
There are so many great options available to support people with dyslexia, from electronic reading pens to dictation software and organisational tools. Many great apps are available standard on smart phones and tablets, so take advantage of them. The use of supportive software can dramatically increase the output of students and employees with dyslexia.
Why? As well as having difficulty in reading and writing, people with dyslexia can have trouble with organisational skills, such as remembering dates, facts and timetables. Allowing them to use assistive technologies can free up their head space for more important tasks.
And one for luck…
Don’t forget that people with dyslexia have many talents! Each person is an individual and should not be summarised by a diagnosis of dyslexia. Skills often associated with dyslexia include ‘big picture’ thinking, creativity, problem solving, interpersonal skills, and spatial awareness, to name a few, so remember, people with dyslexia can be a real asset to your classroom or workplace.