Teaching tips for working with students with learning disabilities

My goal was to do a blog on teaching tips for working with adults with learning differences. In the process, I found several things that sounded really interesting. Unfortunately, they have very little to do with each other. I apologize for the randomization of this post, but I’m sure you’ll find something that makes this blog worth reading.

First, if you are curious if your student has a learning difference, consider whether he or she has difficulty with: (suggested by Scholastic.com).

  • Manipulating sounds in words. For example: change the first sound in pat to /b/ (forming bat)
  • Rhyming (cat, sat, mat) or recognizing words that begin with the same sound (cat and car)
  • Learning basic letter-sound correlations (the letter “a” makes the /aah/ sound)
  • Breaking down words into sounds (not able to say that “cat” is /k/ /aah/ /t/)
  • Blending sounds to form words (when told /k/ /aah/ /t/, cannot easily put sounds together to say “cat”)
  • Noticing when she skips words in a sentence
  • Remembering words she has learned or needing to re-sound them out each time
  • Reading in chunks with a “conversational” voice (as opposed to reading word by word

If you’re still curious, you can check out this site that lists signs and characteristics. 

Next, try different techniques when working with your student. Start by w i d e n i n g the space in between letters. A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that widening the space between letters in words increased the reading speed and average accuracy of 74 Italian and French children with dyslexia. There has also been research to show that self-paced online learning works well for students with learning differences because they have increased time without peer pressure.

Finally, have your student check out Friends of Quinn. Friends of Quinn is a new social network for young adults with learning differences and is the first of its kind. Here are some of the cool things about this site (According to Quinn himself)

  • It’s the first website to use the “dyslexie” font, a new font that was created to help people with dyslexia read and write better. The font’s designer, Christian Boer, has dyslexia. Christian is a great example of “owning it.” Rather than letting dyselxie get the better of him, he turned it into a strength.
  • It’s more visual. People with learning differences learn differently. So we’re using lots of videos and photos to tell stories on the site. I’m posting a video series where I interview adults with LDs who have succeeded in life. I found a way to combine my interest in film and in journalism!
  • Most importantly, it’s more social. If you are a friend, a parent or somebody “living with it,” you can use the Friend Finder feature to find other people with similar interests — whether it is in knowing more about dyslexia or being a big fan of science fiction movies. This site feature helps bring people who live with LDs together. You can even find people who live near you.

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