Helping Dyslexics Learn to Read

Helping Dyslexics Learn to Read

Sometimes you will hear the opinion that a dyslexic cannot learn to read fluently and they face a lifetime of struggles with reading and writing. So it is best to accept that.

I can promise you that that is not true. We teach dyslexics to read all the time and they often become excellent readers and spellers. If someone suggests a dyslexic cannot learn to read, it just means they don’t know how to help a dyslexic learn to read.

The key to success is understanding the cause of difficulty for a dyslexic. You can see a bit more about that on our page Understanding Dyslexia. A bit like a car mechanic needs to be able to understand the sounds coming from an engine, a good specialist can determine what is causing difficulty with a dyslexic’s reading from the patterns that they are seeing.

Guessing – the most common pattern

The most common pattern of reading failure for dyslexics is lots of guessing with the short words. Sometimes they will be able to read long words fine.

So what’s causing that? Well we find that they are almost always using a very good visual memory to sight read the whole word, rather than decoding the letter patterns into sounds as they read. Long words often have a lot of context to them, so a bright dyslexic will use that to work out what it is. But if you show them something like an unfamiliar place name, they will struggle hugely.

Atrocious spelling

You will usually see very poor spelling too in their free writing, even though they can often do well in their spelling tests. The reason for that pattern is that they study the spelling list the night before and effectively draw the pictures of these words out on the page like images, using their great visual memory.

But two weeks later they have lost those spellings again. because the visual memory of them has faded

How to get progress

We have been working with children showing those patterns for years and we routinely get great results with them. We are generally shooting for the top half of the class.

The solution we use is very simple. We present the words in Trainertext so that the child can decode the words using the visual phonic cues. That tends to suit the strong visual mind that many dyslexics have. They are often naturally visual learners and if you go to an art school it will tend to be packed with dyslexics!

As they decode the words in the short lessons each day, you start to see them building confidence with the decoding and then it breaks through into their normal reading after 60-90 lessons. You can give it a go with a free trial from here:

Other patterns

Now it could be that you are not seeing the guessing and spelling patterns that I have described above. That is because the whole word sight reading pattern is not the only possible cause of difficulty for a dyslexic. For instance, have you seen any of these instead:

  • Skipping words and lines
  • Complaining of the words moving around on the page
  • Very slow decoding with no fluency

We track eight different causes of reading difficulty and you can read through them all here: