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If Dyslexia is about Reading, Why is Spelling So Hard?

Updated: Sep 24, 2022

We often think of dyslexia as a reading problem, and are surprised by the struggle that dyslexic people have with correctly spelling words. Included in the dyslexia definition from the International Dyslexia Association are these primary areas of struggle for individuals with dyslexia: accurate and/or fluent word recognition, poor spelling and decoding abilities. You can read the full definition here -

The core reason people with dyslexia struggle with spelling is a brain wiring/memory issue. It takes 30 - 40 repetitions for a dyslexic child to recall what his or her non-dyslexic classmate can master is 3 - 4 repetitions. To create a crystal clear memory of how a particular word looks can be difficult for the student with dyslexia, since consistent, correct spelling of words each time they are written is the path to that clear memory of what a word should look like. You can see the catch 22 situation here, can’t you?

A more analytical approach to spelling is really helpful as a back door approach to spelling correctly. Noticing the patterns of where letter combinations are used in the word or syllable, a method for isolating syllables and individual sounds inside those syllables long enough to put letters, and syllables into correct order all help dyslexic people to become better spellers.

As with so many things in the life of an individual with dyslexia, spelling is not easy, but it is possible with the best tools and approach.

Check out this month’s freebie for five ideas for how to help students break down and master their weekly spelling lists. The ideal usage of this month’s freebie would be to use one method for each of the five days the list words are practiced leading up to a Friday spelling test. I would like to know if you try the spelling methods, and if they work for your situation!

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