Living With Dyslexia

The purpose of this web site is to provide helpful information for dyslexics and non-dyslexics alike. The web site is an IQP project by Rachel C. Copeland and Adam Wilson. All web design was produced by Adam Wilson, and content and graphics are by Rachel C. Copeland. This site provides help to dyslexic students (primarily at, but not limited to WPI) with study skills, emotional support and information on where to get help on campus if needed. This site is intended to help non-dyslexic students and professors to understand what having dyslexia might be like and gives tips to help teach students with dyslexia.

Study Methods/Skills

It is important for a dyslexic student to have all the advantages available when it comes to school and learning. Because many people do not know what dyslexia is, they cannot be expected to know how to cater to a dyslexic's learning styles or offer help and advice. A few basic practices can help a dyslexic overcome some obstacles.

Time Management

A daily routine is very important to a dyslexic student because enough time must be allocated to ensure enough time to complete assignments. Some suggestions on how to better one's time management are:

  • Set up a planning calendar to allocate time for study, entertainment, and homework
  • Times marked on a calendar should be permanent and mandatory
  • Mark down assignments, tests, projects and other various appointments on the planning calendar
  • Attempt consistent and regular hours for work in order to prevent missing classes
  • 40-60 hours a week should be budgeted for study time. Three hours a day for each class is recommended for WPI students
  • Figure out during what part of the day you are most productive
  • Do not work for large increments of time. It is recommended to work for 50 minutes then take a 10-minute break
  • Avoid working under pressure, when tired, or when rushed.
  • Find a place to study with little or no distractions (library)

Reading Tips

  • Purchase text books with CD ROMS if possible, since they usually convey information in a more multi- sensory manner.
  • Many colleges, like WPI, have reading machines for the blind that are helpful for dyslexics who have trouble reading.
  • Active reading is useful.
  • Highlighting may help to remember the major points of the text.
  • Reading out loud may help one in understanding.
  • Using a card under the line you are reading will help avoid skipping lines.
  • Books on Tape are helpful to eliminate as much reading as possible.
  • Large print books may be helpful as well in order to avoid misreading.
  • Use blue or red transparencies over a page of text to eliminate visual distortion.

Note taking

  • Reading the material ahead of time will help in the note taking process.
  • Shorthand may help in the note taking process. Writing down key words or points during a lecture may help, followed later by writing down whole sentences.
  • As an alternative to shorthand, making a mind map may be helpful.
  • Make sure to leave plenty of space for writing, skipping every other line may be helpful.
  • Listen for "signposts" the lecturer gives in class. Many times the professor will drop hints about exam questions.
  • If note taking is still hard, use a tape recorder. This allows the student to go back to the lecture to make sure he or she has gotten everything important.
  • Photocopying a friend's notes are very helpful as well.
  • Also, keeping in mind why you are taking notes is extremely important. Without a purpose, copying becomes a thoughtless process.
  • Using different colors to make very important points stand out can also be very helpful.
  • Copying pictures or diagrams that help you understand something may also be useful.
  • All of these tips attempt to downplay the weaknesses of dyslexia; use any other devices that are visual representations.

Exam preparation

  • Look at the syllabus for each class; it will generally tell you all the dates of homework assignments, projects and tests in advance. This will help in planning ahead.
  • Obtaining old tests offers insight to how a professor tests the class and can provide practice.
  • You need to know how you learn material and use your strengths to your advantage, whether it be visual, aural, writing/reading, or by doing the problems over and over again.
  • Revising lecture notes make be helpful because of its repetition
  • Ask questions if you do not understand something in your notes.
  • Use flash cards with pictures, words, phrases, and anything else that will help you learn the material.
  • Using mind joggers like "Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally", (Parentheses, Exponent, Multiplication, Division, Addition, Subtraction) to remember information or processes.
  • A pegging system may also be helpful for exam preparation. It is linking an object to something learned in class; for example, placing a poster entitled "machinery" might help you remember aspects of the Industrial Revolution.
  • Also linking a smell to an idea or concept can be used to remember information for a test.

Tips for Educators

  • Administer the VARK and record and understand the results (VARK)
  • Use different methods of teaching to appeal to all styles, for example use pictures, graphs, videos, readings, and labs.
  • Be creative, think of new ways of conveying information so it's not only interesting but also more understandable to someone who is mainly visual or read/write, etc.
  • Try to encompass all of these styles (Visual, Aural, Read/Write, Kinsthetic) to some extent
  • Hold consistent office hours and make yourself available to all students who are having trouble with assignments.
  • Encourage group work.
  • Be sensitive to a student who has dyslexia. Make sure you let them know that you are available to help them.

Accommodations

Students with learning differences may or may not have testing accommodations. The student should come to you during the first week of classes with his or her accommodation documentation. One paper will tell you that the student has a learning difference and requires a certain amount of time in addition to the time allowed on exams. The second sheet is for you to provide the Academic Resources Center with information about what the student can have going into the exam, how much time the other students are getting to complete the exam, and by what methods the exam will be delivered to the testing center and back to the professor. These sheets are due back to JoAnn Van Dyke a minimum of 5 days before the exam. Be considerate of the student by making sure the information sheet is completed in a timely fashion.

 
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Emotional Support

  • Join/form a student group for support
  • Attend therapy if necessary
  • Find people/friends to talk to about it
  • Seek campus counseling center (at WPI this is the West Street House)
  • Try meditation or another form of stress release
  • Exercise or even just take a walk
  • Find a Hobby or join a club
  • Attend social events
  • Avoid stressful situations (like crowded noisy places)
  • Take power naps
  • Take a short excursion
  • Play an instrument