How educators, family can help adults with dyslexia

How educators, family can help adults with dyslexia

By Donell Pons



This is part five of a five-part series about how to support and accommodate middle-schoolers, high-schoolers, and adults with dyslexia. You can read part one here and part here, part three here, and part four here.

Being able to read is often connected to intelligence, but many intelligent people struggle to read because of a language-based difficulty. I found out on our honeymoon that my husband has dyslexia. I hid my surprise as I thought about his academic achievements and general intellect. “If he has dyslexia,” I thought, “how many others are coping with reading challenges into adulthood?” The discovery made me realize that students with dyslexia strive to blend in and catch up in classrooms around America. If they go unidentified and unsupported, students enter adulthood coping with the challenges of reading everything from street signs to restaurant menus.

Dyslexia is a life-long journey. Common characteristics include poor spelling, poor writing, mixing up similar words and reading slowly and inaccurately. Even though many young students may be identified as having dyslexia, some won’t qualify for special education. Knowing that roughly 20% of the population will struggle to acquire the skill of reading through no fault of their own -- no lack of desire, interest or intellect -- but simply because of a neurobiological difference, should motivate all of us, as a society, to acknowledge and support people with dyslexia.

Advantages and challenges of working with adults

An adult’s progress will vary depending on the severity of their dyslexia, their enthusiasm to improve, and the experience and skill of their instructor. Many habits they develop in order to cope in school, such as guessing at words and deriving meaning from context clues rather than decoding words, are survival skills that will be an obstacle to real growth. Adults can let down their guard if they know they are in a safe learning space.

One of the advantages of working with an older student is their ability to self-reflect and to analyze different aspects of reading instruction more readily than a younger student. They’ll recognize the importance of improving their reading skills, whether it be because they want to help their child with homework or to advance their career.

Many times, adults who are interested in receiving reading remediation may find resources through state workplace programs, universities with reading clinics or the local Scottish Rite Association.


To read the entire article, please visit SmartBrief.