Dyslexia Overview

Definition adopted by the International Dyslexia Association (IDA):
“Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.”

Teaching Practices for Dyslexia Instruction with Older Students

  • breaking words into syllable types;
  • when and how to read multisyllabic words by blending parts together;
  • recognizing irregular words that do not follow predictable patterns;
  • the meanings of common prefixes, suffixes, inflectional endings and roots;
  • Instruction should include ways in which words relate to each other (for example, trans: transfer, translate, transform, translation).
  • how to break words into word parts and to combine word parts to create words based on their roots, bases, or other features; and
  • how and when to use structural analysis to decode unknown words

Primary Reading/Spelling Characteristics of Dyslexia

The most common symptoms associated with dyslexia include weaknesses in:

  • word reading
  • word decoding
  • oral reading fluency
  • spelling

Students with Dyslexia benefit from explicit and systematic instruction in:

  • Phonology
  • Sound-Symbol Association
  • Syllable Instruction
  • Morphology
  • Syntax
  • Semantics

Instructional Best Practices

  • Use Multi-Sensory Strategies
  • Plan universally designed learning

Accommodations & Strategies to Support Students with Dyslexia


  • use marker or highlighting tape to highlight important textbook sections
  • assign peer reading buddies
  • review vocabulary prior to reading
  • do not require the student to read aloud
  • use text summaries to reduce the amount of content in a text so students can focus on core ideas
  • use of graphic organizers


  • extended time
  • allow use of a keyboard when appropriate
  • focus on content vs. spelling and handwriting
  • student held accountable for spelling words that have been mastered only
  • use of graphic organizers
  • speech-to-text software

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