Summer is a great time to think about what worked and what didn’t work last school year. Teachers, parents, and students can all take stock of last year’s successes and failures to learn from both. For dyslexic students or those who shepherd students with dyslexia, accommodations can smooth out some of the bumps which may have contributed to experiences in the “failures” column. Educate yourself about accommodations by reading this article, then check out this month’s freebie, a fairly comprehensive list of common accommodations for students with dyslexia.
The goal of accommodations is not the make school easier, but rather to make school possible for the student with dyslexia.
Dr. Sally Shaywitz suggests accommodations start as early as second or third grade, the age at which students are expected to do some independent reading and writing. Accommodations are not crutches, it is not a sign of weakness to use them, and they will help the child with dyslexia learn more efficiently.
An accommodation changes how the student accesses information or demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and abilities, but not the scope of their learning.
Despite the use of accommodations, academic standards or expectations remain unchanged. For example, in a testing situation, a dyslexic student might have a word bank with inventors’ names in random order for them to fill in a blank next to the invention for which the inventors are credited. Traditional learners in the class would not have the word bank of names available to them. All students are required to match the inventor to their invention, however, the dyslexic child is given the assistance they need to correctly spell the names of inventors through the word bank.
To set up accommodations, a formal identification of the student as dyslexic through formal testing is usually required. Testing reports frequently contain a section toward the end of the report with recommendations for the student. Suggested accommodations are often included in the recommendations. The school administration will work with parents and the teacher to set up accommodations. A date to revisit the accommodations is usually added to the documentation listing the accommodations.
Lots of effort goes into setting up accommodations for a child with dyslexia. That effort needs to extend into the classroom so the student is trained in how to use their accommodations. The number one reason students don’t use accommodations is that the child doesn’t understand how the accommodations work. Both parents and teachers play a role in ensuring the child avoids this pitfall. Explain what accommodations the child has, and talk through how they work in the classroom. A little practice in using the accommodations will reward the student with a better school year in which accommodations make it possible for them to learn. and to demonstrate what they have learned without encumbrance.
Below is a sample spelling list and an accommodated spelling list. The ideal accommodated spelling list chooses to include words for which there is a pattern the student can hear which will guide them to select the correct spelling of the target sound. This strategy not only teaches the child to correctly spell words from the list, it also teaches them to correctly spell all words of that pattern.
Accommodated Spelling List Example
List words for mainstream class:
bugle human cubic usual universe museum dispute commute
perfume refuge ridicule compute hue argue value revue continue
curlicue feudal euphony Europe euro eulogy eureka curfew pewter
skew ewe nephew sinew
The target sound for this spelling list is /yü/. The list reflects the five ways to spell the /yü/ sound. It could be accommodated for a student with dyslexia by concentrating on u-e and ue spellings of the /yü/ sound. There is a definite rule to guide the student in which spelling of /yü/ to use, depending on where in the word or syllable the /yü/ is heard. In the middle of a word or syllable, followed by a consonant, the u-e spelling pattern would be use. When /yü/ is heard at the end of a word or syllable, use the ue spelling pattern. Here is an accommodated list that will help the student with dyslexia learn to use the rules for these two spellings of /yü/,
Accommodated spelling list:
dispute commute perfume refuge
ridicule compute hue argue
value revue continue curlicue