"She is so proud of her newfound love
of reading, and it's a great relief to us."
- Marie J., parent of dyslexic 9th grader
Dyslexia and Spelling
Spelling Software for Dyslexic Children
For most children with dyslexia, spelling is a challenge. In early life they are able to memorize, but as time goes on, spelling deteriorates. Many experts feel that spelling is a classic dyslexia symptom.
What causes spelling problems for dyslexic children?
One common but mistaken belief is that spelling problems stem from a poor visual memory for the sequences of letters in words. Recent research shows that a general kind of visual memory plays a relatively minor role in learning to spell.
Difficulties with spelling for dyslexic children originate with language learning weaknesses. Therefore, spelling reversals of easily confused letters such as b and d, or sequences of letters, such as wnet for went, are manifestations of underlying language learning weaknesses rather than of a visually based problem.
Poor spellers have trouble remembering the letters in words because they have trouble noticing, remembering, and recalling the features of language that those letters represent; this is caused by weak underlying language skills.
Spelling Predicts Reading Success
Difficulty with spelling goes beyond what is required for writing. Spelling pattern recognition is a key element in reading fluency. It is how the brain recognizes and stores words, eventually turning every word into a sight word. For children with dyslexia, spelling difficulties slow down their reading progress -- it impedes reading fluency and then reading comprehension. Therefore spelling is an important part of our comprehensive dyslexia help.
Why Dyslexia and Spelling Problems Often Go Together
The English spelling system is not crazy or unpredictable. It can be taught as a system that makes sense. Nearly 50% of English words are predictable based on sound-letter correspondences alone (e.g., slap, pitch, boy). An additional 37% of the more common words are almost predictable except for one sound (e.g., knit and boat). This leaves 13% of words that are irregular.
For children with sound auditory processing skills, learning to spell the 87%, the regular words, is a snap, it comes naturally. The 13% are a challenge, but because it is only 13% of words it is a manageable task.
However, children with dyslexia tend to have weak phonological awareness, meaning they struggle even with phonetically predictable words, the 87%. For them, every word on the page is a challenge. Learning to spell is an overwhelming task. Think about learning a foreign language. Starting out, every word is a mystery. Our spelling programs for dyslexic children target phonological awareness first, the impact on spelling being to make phonetically predictable words easier to spell, allowing the dyslexic child to focus on the 13% of words that not predictable.
How We Improve Spelling For Dyslexic Children
Exercises For Phonological Awareness, Spelling Rules & Exceptions
Spelling is an integral part of our treatment for dyslexia. Our strategy towards spelling for dyslexics follows the development path of normal readers:
- Matching sounds to letters. For example, before spelling a word, students can orally take the sounds of the word apart. Then, they can recall the letters that spell those sounds. This requires phonological awareness, a cognitive skill developed by our Fast ForWord program. For most children with dyslexia, learning to spell these phonetically regular words makes a significant difference to their spelling skills.
- Recognizing patterns. Patterns such as the six basic syllable types of English should be taught because they represent vowel sounds in predictable ways.
- Spelling rules. Then comes spelling rules for adding endings to words, and conventions such as i before e except after c. A few irregular words should be practiced daily (e.g., come, they, their, who). As words are learned, exercises to build fluency help integrate these new spelling skills into reading where these patterns and exceptions are reinforced.
- Spelling exceptions. The final step is spelling exceptions, those unpredictable spellings that present difficulties for all readers. Spelling irregularities are only manageable for children with dyslexia once they are comfortable with phonetically predictable words, effectively taking them off the learning table.
Spelling Program for Dyslexia Descriptions
Here are our dyslexia spelling program specifics:
The Fast ForWord processing and cognitive skill exercises build the phonological framework needed to recognize letter sounds in words, making sounding out much easier and making spelling of phonetically spelled words easier. It has sound discrimination exercises to help your child hear slight phonetic differences, |me| versus |ne| for instance, as well as working memory and sequencing exercises -- essential skills for spelling, often lacking in children with dyslexia.
Most critical of all though, Fast ForWord dyslexia spelling software makes listening and reading more efficient, more automatic, freeing up thinking capacity to observe how words are spelled. This extra room created by Fast ForWord in the end is the difference maker. Once the thinking and sound discrimination skills are in place, your child can start the process of learning and absorbing the 87% of words that are spelled with phonetic, regular spelling patterns.
Fast ForWord then moves to the irregular 13%. In Fast ForWord Reading, a series of age-appropriate reading programs, each program has one spelling exercise that helps children with dyslexia develop spelling skills in a normal progression as described above: first, reinforcing spelling rules, then, unusual spellings and exceptions.
Spelling software details