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Strategies That Work for Students Grade 9 to 12 with Dyslexia

David, Michael and Audrey all have been diagnosed with dyslexia. David is a freshman at the University of Arkansas at Feyetteville, AR; Michael is a 10th-grader and Audrey, an 8th-grader. Ginger is a high school teacher at a school for dyslexia. With years of experience in parenting and teaching LD students, she shared some of her “strategies that work”:

  1. Homework:
    • Consistently use any tutorial times before, during or after school to complete homework.
    • Do as much work as possible during study hall.
    • Use an aide at school as a help source.
    • Find a tutor. In my experience, there is too much of a power struggle between parent(s) and child. I have helped very little with homework.
    • Tutoring 1 to 2 times a week, depending on the subject matter.
  2. Research Papers:
    • Divide research into small components. Here, a calendar is critical for planing. Use a large desktop or wipe-off type.
    • Take a class on writing research papers at your school or community college. If a course isn’t available, I recommend the following handbook: Writing The Research Report ISBN 0-03-047073-0; Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc.
  3. Management:
    • Schedule study hall for last period. My oldest son who participated in varsity football and track all four years of high school, always requested his study hall at the end of the day. He would get as much homework as possible done at this time.
    • Take an organizational skills course at school or at your local college. This will help with filing and organization at home and scheduling at school.
    • Use a tub file to file back assignments and tests. In this way, they can be pulled out at later date for exam studies.
    • Take a time-management course at school or at your local college. This will help you prioritize your time. Time management is the key to a successful college experience. Why not start in high school?
    • Use a calendar to break up long-range assignments into smaller pieces. Most students with dyslexia get very overwhelmed with large assignments.
  4. General:
    • Buy your own textbooks. Writing in the margin, highlighting and defining words in a textbook are critical for comprehension. I try to buy all history and science books from the publisher. Textbooks on tape haven’t been effective for my children, but reading aloud and paraphrasing often are very helpful study techniques.
    • Use computers on a daily basis for word-processing and spell checking. They have been the “saving grace” for our children. I have seen computers literally change the lives of children with dysgraphia, severe dyslexia, and oral and written expression problems.
    • Be involved in sports or an extracurricular activity. Sports have served as great outlet for frustration in the academic area and as area of success in our family. I trained under Dr. Lucious Waites at the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital, and he always told parents, as well as therapists, NEVER to take their LD children out of an extracurricular activity where they were experiencing success, even at the detriment of academic performance.
  5. Psychology:
    • Be your own self-advocate. Most teachers appreciate students who speak up about their special needs. There are some who don’t — tread carefully with them! Ideally, students must be proactive to be successful!
    • Seek professional counseling if needed. This has served a big purpose in my family. As you know, learning problems can and often do turn into emotional problems if left alone. I didn’t want any problems to fester.

I hope some of these coping strategies work for your child. They certainly did for ours.

Kurnoff, Shirley. The Human Side of Dyslexia. London Universal, 2001. pp.168-169
The Human Side of Dyslexia
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