Effective Dyslexia Activities For All Age Groups

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Greetings from the other side. Let’s give you the benefit of the doubt and see how fast and efficiently you can read and transcribe the following passages. 

Tiring and exhausting, isn’t it? The above depicts just a chapter in the life of a dyslexic individual.  

 Currently, we share the earth with approximately  7.8 billion humans as of January 2021, stated, estimated, and elaborated by the United Nations Worldometer. (1) As mentioned above, out of the total population, approximately 43.5 million (2), which makes a staggering 5-15% Americans, may have dyslexia. These above-stated figures annihilate the favorite idiosyncrasy of the popular education system, “one size fits all.” The struggle of the children undergoing the turmoil of dyslexia is real. Questioning their abilities, smartness, capabilities every moment, and as a parent witnessing their children doubting themself is no less than a nightmare.

The most common misconception which is nurtured more often than usual about dyslexic people is that it is merely a vision problem. Along with that, people also believe that it affects only the reading capabilities. But little do we know that dyslexia can induce and sabotage the writing and spelling capabilities as well. 

There are so many unturned pages, confusion, and struggle in the search for that one thing, that one moment of transcendence that will help you walk the way forward in order to make fight the darkness within and rise over the constraints of dyslexia. But can we stop the glum and appreciate the fact that all stars are born in darkness. They say dyslexia is a disability; I say it’s a blessing. We have researched and tried to jot down a few activities that can allow you to unravel your superpowers of dyslexia.

But before settling down with the activities that can help the dyslexic individuals we need to understand what common difficulties they face at certain periods of time so as to make the process more age and situation appropriate.

Common Dyslexia Difficulties

Difficulties that may occur in preschoolers

  1. Delayed fine and gross motor skills
  2. Slower learning of words
  3. Articulating a situation or a story or an event in the correct sequence
  4. Pronouncing a word for phonological awareness
  5. Identifying sound while breaking a word or learning rhythms
  6. Difficulty in remembering letters or numbers or colors 

Difficulties that may occur  in school children and older individuals 

  1. Spelling and reading letters and numbers
  2. Discriminating between left and right impulse
  3. Difficulty in organizing
  4. Improper spelling 
  5. Following information
  6. Pronouncing a word of processing a sound
  7. Trouble solving maths and understanding logic

Following some guided activity may help individuals with dyslexia or may have dyslexia to compensate for the challenges dyslexia might throw in the road or improve skills. 

Effective Dyslexia Activities 

Multisensory approach and activities 

The multisensory approach is also known as visual-auditory Kinesthetic tackle (VAKT) (Mercer & Mercer, 1993)” (Murphy, 1997, p. 1) stimulates the engagement of the students on learning based on various levels(5). 

Multisensory technique or approach is simpler teaching using multiple senses. The senses may involve your visual, taste, touch, hearing, etc. In order to help our brain decipher a language, there are four primary pathways of learning that are visual, auditory, tactile, and Kinesthetic. It is simply based on the approach that if you tap all the senses while learning it can ensure that the knowledge can be relocated from short-term to long-term memory making it easier for dyslexic individuals to remember the data. 

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Effective Activities that can be done

  1. Drawing letters on different surfaces and texture like sand, foam etc can elevate the depth of learning. Along with writing the letter or the  word on the surface they need to pronounce the sound each letter is making. This activity will involve their touch, sight and auditory senses.  
  2. Using play doh to create different shapes of letter by squishing, smashing, rolling and pulling the Play doh. Adding different textures like poppy seeds, rice or button will help heighten your senses.
  3. Making origami while watching a video. It can be customized and exempted based on the various levels of education.
  4. Sorting buttons or toys based on their size or matching colors.
  5. Creating different shades of colour in water.

It is not important it involves all the senses while teaching implying this approach. But adding an extra sense might help for the information to get integrated.

Phonological awareness 

Phonological awareness is a meta-cognitive skill to detect and analyze individual sounds in a spoken word. In order to make a dyslexic individual aware of the phonemic, this skill is imperative. This approach can be broken down on a few levels.

Effective Activities that can be done

  1. The first activity would be initiating the ability of the students to break down a sentence word by word. For example, a sentence like “I love coming to school”, the students should be able to recognize individual words in the sentence. 
  2. The next step would be initiating the ability to break a word by its syllables. For example “education” can be identified as “edu-cation”. 
  3. After they are able to master that they can move on to the next step, that is the ability to break a word into even smaller units by their letters and identifying the sound of each letter. 

There is a small Window of confusion between Phonics and phonemic awareness. Phonic means the letter sounds in a written word and phonemic awareness means the sound of speech. Both should be given equal importance while developing an activity for dyslexic individuals.

Fine and Gross motor skill activities

Balance deficits are often associated with dyslexia. The development of fine or gross motor skills can take a longer road. This delayed development may lead to a certain type of clumsiness or incoordination amongst dyslexic individuals. Therefore training these skills are imperative to efficiently perform daily tasks like buttoning up clothes, holding a pencil, tying shoelace and proper balancing. Training your gross and fine motor skills is a part of physical therapy but it can also be done at home or at school. 

Effective Activities that can be done to train Gross Motor skills

  1. For improving balance, children can walk across a balance beam or following a line while walking. The teachers can increase the intensity of the challenge by putting up hurdles or even complicating or spiralling up the lines. 
  2. In order to train the dynamic balance of the children, which refers to the child’s ability to stand on a verbal surface or an uneven surface, many activities can be designed at home. 
  3. The children or the student balance themselves over a wobbly surface or over a pillow while watching TV or doing other things like playing a board game. 
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Effective Activities that can be done to train Fine Motor skills

  1. To work up the fine motor skill, many things can be used as play dough or putty. 
  2. Shaping them using your fingers will help understand and brush up their fine motor skill. 
  3. Skills like painting and other craft can also help like knitting, or sewing, or beading. 

Using Flashcards

Flashcards are the perfect tool to promote studying through active recalling. These cards can be customised based on the level of education. These are widely popular as they add additional dynamics to the learning process.

Effective Activities that can be done

  1. Adding pictures or elements to the flashcard and identifying it.
  2. Covering the flashcard with another card and revealing the picture or element gradually while the students would identify and pronounce the element in the flashcard as soon as they recognize it.
  3. Making a set of Flashcards with different elements or animals on it, and revealing it in a certain order. The next step would be to hide one from the set revealed previously to them, and the students are supposed to recognise which elements or animals is missing in the flashcard.
  4. Sorting the cards according to the colour or alphabetically can be another activity with the same sets of cards.

Using Audio Books

Due to the slower pace of reading and the difficulty the dyslexic students face during the reading process, it is very frustrating for them to keep up with a traditional printed book. But this loophole can be filled by using audiobooks. The students can read alongside the narrator in the audiobook.

Using Puzzles

By the use of puzzles, students can make use of their recalling and sorting abilities. Doing an activity in a puzzle format allows the gamification of the subject while learning. This way the students would enjoy and get encouraged in solving the riddles, puzzles, logic, etc. 

Effective Activities that can be done

  1. Sorting Dominos and practising addition and subtraction using two or more Dominos.
  2. Using toothpicks how to make a certain shape and again recreating another shape from the original one by moving a certain number of toothpicks only.
  1. Using Letter magnets

Letter magnets can be your best friend while learning the alphabets. These are fun, colourful and the most accessible and easy way to learn alphabets.

Effective Activities that can be done

  1. Create a printable sheet of alphabets. Put the matching letters from the letter magnet box on the printed alphabet.
  2. Create a printable sheet with a few alphabets missing. Make the students fill out the missing alphabet using the letter magnets.
  3. Jumble up the sheet with alphabets put up in different orders. This way, when the students will place the letter magnets on the specific alphabet, they will have to find it first.
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Using Printables

Learning can be made easy and fun by the use of printables. Printables can spice up the primary and tedious learning process and help the students from distracting while learning. We have a section of free printables which you can check out here.

Using Speech to text

Using speech to text applications will allow students to pronounce the specific word out loud and see how it is inscribing with a particular pronunciation. This would aid the student to overcome a certain lag in their pace.

Using spell check apps

Since dyslexic students mix up the letters and words, a spell check app would come handy. Certain activities can be done in this context, as well.

Effective Activities that can be done

  1. Typing down a phrase and doing a follow-up spell check using online applications.
  2. Proofreading a specific paragraph and checking for errors using a dictionary both online and offline.

Many games can be played or included as an activity like sorting, categorizing games, playing riddles, playing audiobooks, etc. Games like Where’s Waldo or building blocks games can help work out the child’s memory and allow the child to train their brains better. 

Wrapping up

Dyslexia often runs in families. It is possible that your child is going through a series of demotivating sessions. It is highly believed that dyslexia is a hoax, and the children are just too lazy. But the truth is dyslexic kids are working overtime in order to perform the same task which the average brain is doing efficiently. But that doesn’t make them any less of an intellect. Dyslexia does not affect the smartness of a person. As a matter of fact, many successful scientists, actors, writers have dyslexia. It is believed that Albert Einstein also faced a reading disability. Something we often fail to understand is dyslexia is no less than a trace of evolution. These individuals can identify, imagine, and connect events beyond the thinking of an average mind. A little care and supervision with a lot of support can go a long way. 

References 

  1. Current World Population(United Nations Worldometer)
  2. Liberman, Shankweiler, & Liberman, 1989
  3. Globally, Dyslexia International (2017)
  4. Brain activations during letter-by-letter reading: A follow-up study
  5. Murphy, Nancy. (1997, May). A multisensory vs. conventional approach to teaching spelling. Unpublished master’s thesis, Kean College, New Jersey, USA. (Eric Document Reproduction Service No. ED 405 564)

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