How to Improve Reading and Writing Skills: Tips for Dyslexic Students by Dyslexic Students

December 12, 2013 

dyslexia writing skillsDyslexia is a learning disability that one in five Americans face every day, a disorder that can impede a student’s ability to proficiently read, write, and spell. There is no medication for dyslexia, but fortunately, there are plenty of dependable resources that can help people with dyslexia become good readers and writers.

In “Tips from Dyslexic Students for Dyslexic Students,” an article from the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity by Nancy Hall, dyslexic students who have worked to improve their own reading and writing skills share tips on managing time, using the right technology, and staying positive.

Take a look at the some of the suggestions below to help you maximize your improvement with dyslexia:

1. Stay Organized and Manage Your Time

Dyslexia can add hours to simple reading assignments and math problems. Setting aside time to complete projects is very important. Here are some tips for organizing yourself and managing your time:

  • Think ahead: Before you start an assignment, estimate how much time you will need and what materials you will need to complete the project. If you’re assigned a short story book review, how long will it take to read and take notes? How long to organize your outline and write the review? How many hours will you need for final edits?
  • Break assignments, essays, and projects up into multiple stages: That way you don’t get overwhelmed trying to complete them in one sitting.
  • List out your priorities: Find out which assignments are due earliest, and work on those first.
  • Work ahead: If you have a free night without homework, look ahead and find something you could start early to save you time next week – use every minute!

2. Take Advantage of Technology

  • Find information about audio recordings of reading materials: Learning Ally is an organization dedicated to helping people who suffer from dyslexia by providing a number of audio books.
  • Look for computer programs that can read your assignments aloud to you: When you finish an assignment, listen back to it and try to spot errors.
  • Research tailored fonts: The 1in5 Initiative provides audiobooks for people managing a learning disability like dyslexia, and the organization’s website uses a dyslexic-friendly font that can assist letter and word recognition for dyslexic students.

3. Stay Focused and Limit Distractions

  • Find a quiet place to study: Limiting yourself from distractions will help you maximize your time.
  • Try your best on assignments, but don’t do too much more than what you have to: The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity explains more, “You don’t have to research everything on the Civil War to write a few paragraphs on ‘The Battle of Bull Run.’”
  • Try common study tricks: Chewing gum, wearing earplugs, or using noise-minimizing headphones may help you focus.

4. Try Different Writing Formats – Find Out What Works For You!

  • Create a reference guide: If you struggle with writing a certain letter or number, try asking a teacher or parent to write it on the top of your paper so you can reference it while you work.
  • Add some color: Award-winning author Sally Gardner, who is dyslexic, finds it helpful to write in different colors. “I start the day in one color, in the afternoon I use another and cut paste together before putting it all back to black,” she says.
  • Change up your fonts and spacing: Many dyslexic students have benefited from using large fonts and double-spacing.

5. Be Confident In Yourself!

  • Stay confident that you can accomplish anything: Dyslexia can makes things more challenging, but it doesn’t make them impossible.
  • Keep a sense of humor and remember that dyslexia “is a way of being,” Gardner says; it is something to celebrate for making you who you are.
  • Look back at your past: See how much you’ve overcome. You’ve accomplished way more than you think!
  • Don’t be afraid to ask teachers and tutors for help: One student shares, “I used to feel embarrassed about having to work with reading specialists and a speech teacher, but I wouldn’t be where I am now without them.” Take advantage of any resources that could be beneficial to you.


Photo courtesy of jjpacres on Flickr.


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