Dyslexia, language processing.

Dyslexia is something that at the moment cannot be cured but it can be managed so that the sufferer can lead a normal life and reach their full potential career wise.  People with dyslexia have the same IQ levels as non-dyslexic people.   For example, Tom Cruise and Steve Jobs are both dyslexic. However, the condition is not without challenges. 

This is what reading is like if you have dyslexia!


Dyslexia does not affect the eyes or optic nerves. If a person has good or bad vision this is not related to dyslexia.  In plain terms, dyslexia affects the way the brain processes the written word (reading) writing and speech, which is all related to language processing.

A sufferer has problems breaking down words and putting sounds together to pronounce or write words.   To explain this, dyslexics have problems transferring language into thoughts when listening or reading and thoughts into language when writing and speaking.  Therefore, they are not able to read with the speed, fluency or accuracy as a non-dyslexic person.

It can be difficult for someone who is not dyslexia to understand what it is like to have the condition. One way could be to think of the times when you have been in a foreign country and could not understand any road signs, restaurant menus, street names or read a paper.   Eventually, after a while, you would start picking up on the language but a dyslexic person would find this extremely hard to do.

Symptoms of Dyslexia in Young Children

Children aged 3 – 6 years may show problems with hearing and talking because dyslexia has difficulties with decoding and processing language. Speech development may be slow and problems pronouncing words and letter switching i.e. ‘busgetti’ instead of ‘spaghetti.’

Other symptoms could be:

  • Problems adding new vocabulary words
  • Unable to remember the right word
  • Issues with rhyming words
  • Problems learning numbers, colors, the alphabet, shapes, spell or write their name and days of the week
  • Finds it hard to interact with others
  • Cannot follow routines or directions

Fine motor skills take longer to develop using the small muscles in the hand (such as holding a pencil, coloring or creating something with Lego), using cutlery, cleaning teeth, brushing hair or using the toilet.

Modern Technology

In these modern times, there are assistive technologies that can greatly help dyslexic people and non-dyslexic people.  For example, most computers, tablets, mobile phones have speech recognition and speech can be turned into text on the screen.

The calculator is commonly used; although you still need to understand the formula you are entering to get the correct answer, especially if it is science related.

Spreadsheets, once the basics are understood, can be of great assistance for storing data such as household budgets and keeping on top of finances.

Other things such as checklists, and calendars (electronic or hard copy).

There are folders electronically and hard copy to keep things organized and in their proper place.

Other resources are online dictionaries, the spell check in word documents plus the old-fashioned hard copy! The Livescribe Smart Pen enables note-taking while a recording is taking place for instance of a meeting or lecture, the recording can then be played back.

What Can be Done to Help People With Dyslexia?

During school years creating dyslexia friendly classrooms would be a good start.  Of course, we still need to consider students who are non-dyslexic, all students whether they have learning disabilities or not need to be given the same fair attention to help them achieve their very best potential during their school years.

Creating a Friendly Dyslexic Classroom

Breaking down tasks and making them shorter for the dyslexic student is more comfortable for them to cope with.  There is often a problem with memory, for example, remembering when homework needs to be completed by.  A pre-made checklist is a good way for all students to keep themselves organized and aware of what tasks are to be completed and by when.   Other ways to keep students organized is the use of different colored folders, dividers, calendars and google docs.

Some dyslexic students have problems with metacognitive skills and can be compulsive without giving any forethought or advanced planning to the tasks ahead of them. Using a multi-sensory method that the students can relate to is a way of dealing with the issue.  Get the students to think about the day ahead and plan it, then ask them to explain how they managed to do it. This gives them no choice but to reflect on their thinking.  All students should be given this task whether dyslexic or not.  Any written material should also be explained in oral form.  Luckily we have audio books, text to speech and the teacher reading to the students.

Providing an outline of the day ahead will let the students know what is going to happen and what is expected.  A summary at the end of the day of what has been learned will help consolidate the information in long-term memory.  Ensuring the dyslexic students have written down their required homework tasks or providing a prepared assignment sheet will make sure they are aware of what they need to do and when it must be done by.

If there are any changes in the classroom schedule, this should be verbally conveyed to the students and not just put on a board.  Let dyslexia students sit near the front of the classroom so they can see the board better and have closer access to the teacher.  Use double spacing when writing on the board and underline each row of data with a different color or write each line of data with a different color.  And, make sure that every student is ready to move on before erasing any text.  It can be a good idea to buddy up a dyslexic student with a non-dyslexic student so that they can be given some further help.  But, this should only be done if the teacher has judged the considered candidate to have the personality, trait, and temperament.

Everyone deserves to be given a good sound education to help them on their way in life.

Jan, Life Coach You

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