Q: What strategies can help a dyslexic student succeed in high school and college?
A:Here are some strategies for dyslexic students:
• Request extra time on tests. Extra time on examinations is a necessity. The amount of extra time cannot be determined from testing but should be based on your own experiences. The first time you request this accommodation, you might want to request double time.
• Avoid taking too many courses with large volumes of reading. You should limit yourself to no more than two "reading" courses per semester; if necessary, take a fifth year of high school (and, later, college).
• Obtain recorded versions of your textbooks from Learning Ally (formerly Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic). Ask your instructor for a book list before the start of the semester and listen while you read. If you can, find alternatives to the reading material. Watching a movie version as a preliminary to reading the novel, for example, introduces you to the plot and the names of characters and places, making it easier to then read the book.
• Preview reading to identify words you can't pronounce and talk through the material with your teacher or tutor on a one-to-one basis. Avoid multiple choice-tests; instead request tests that are based on short essays.
• Get a laptop computer for taking notes and writing assignments. Borrow someone else's lecture notes or record lectures, as well as your own essays with a digital recorder for later transcription.
• Check out speech-to-text programs, like Dragon Naturally Speaking and Read & Write Gold, that will assist you in writing papers as you talk through your ideas. See what program suits you best, depending on your school work and computer set-up at home. To read more about Dragon, click here. Read more about Read & Write Gold here.
• Try out a smart pen. Livescribe has a few versions that allow you to transfer your notes to your computer, among other features. Learn more about Livescribe here.
• Give prepared short oral reports rather than instant oral responses in class. Select courses where the emphasis is on content, not on the details. These strategies can go a long way in maximizing your academic strengths while at the same time minimizing your weaknesses.
(© Overcoming Dyslexia by Dr. Sally Shaywitz)