Dyslexia Hacks to Make Life a Little Easier
There’s one thing all successful people with dyslexia have in common. They’ve discovered tricks – dyslexia hacks — that help them cope with their learning disability. Hacks that let them do things in ways that fit better with their strengths and weaknesses.
For people with dyslexia, simple tricks like switching to the right font can save time and reduce frustration. Working in ways that are less taxing in terms of reading and language skills can free up the dyslexic brain to focus better on the task at hand.
It is always advisable to seek out dyslexia treatments, such as Fast ForWord provided by Gemm Learning. However, in the meantime, here are 8 of these hacks that can make life easier for dyslexic children and adults. Not all of these tips will help everyone, but try giving as many of them as you can to figure out which ones might work for you.
Because people with dyslexia tend to have difficulty processing language, they tend to be naturally more inclined towards visual and spatial thinking. Whenever possible, a great dyslexia hack is to organize information using diagrams, graphs, maps, charts, pictures, etc.
Diagrams can also be a helpful study strategy in school. Many dyslexic students will find it helpful to translate information they read into some kind of visual representation and to review new concepts by drawing them.
2. Highlighting and Annotating
Highlighters and annotations in the margins of texts are great. They help keep track of important information and essential concepts and for cutting down on rereading.
To get the most mileage from this hack, try developing a system where different markings mean different things. For example, where you highlight essential concepts in the text and put question marks above passages you want to return to look at in more detail. Some people also like using different color highlighters.
Often the best way to read a book if you have dyslexia is just to cut reading out of the equation entirely. Audio books, from Audible for example, let people with dyslexia experience books without having to get caught up in the mechanics of reading.
Other non-written sources of information like podcasts, radio shows and movies are also godsends for people with dyslexia. These formats make it possible to concentrate on the actual content itself rather than the process of decoding that content.
4. Text-to-Speech Software
Audiobooks are great. But there’s no getting around the fact that you’ll often have to deal with information that’s only available in written format. In these situations, text-to-speech software can help. It translates the text into speech you can listen to.
There are many options to choose from for text-to-speech software, some of which are free. Here is a list of some of the most commonly used programs. Text-to-speech software can be used for a variety of different kinds of texts, including Word documents, PDFs and even emails.
5. Breaking Up Tasks
One of the most frustrating parts of living with dyslexia can be the sheer amount of time many tasks take. The best way to deal with this aspect of having the learning disability is by accepting that some things simply will take a long time and breaking these tasks up into smaller pieces to minimize frustration.
For instance, if you have a text you need to read, divide it in advance into smaller portions to take one at a time. Then, once you start reading, take a break after getting through each portion. Get up and walk around, grab a quick snack, or do anything else that will let your brain reset and reward you for making it through that portion of the task.
Many people with dyslexia find that font choice affects their reading speed. A 2013 study found that in general, sans serif, monospace and roman fonts are easier to read than serif, proportional and italic fonts for people with dyslexia – but everyone’s different, so try experimenting with several different fonts to see what works best for you.
Font color can also affect ease of reading, so also try playing around with font color and background color. Even wearing colored glasses while reading can be helpful.
Finally, dyslexic-friendly fonts are a more recent arrival on the scene. Although these fonts haven’t yet been scientifically validated as actually being easier to read for those with dyslexia, some people do seem to find them helpful. OpenDyslexic and Dyslexie are the two most popular options.
7. Reading Aloud
Reading aloud is a good trick for keeping yourself focused on whatever you’re reading. It can be useful to prevent skipping over words and losing your place. It also helps information that’s being read “sink in.” Finally, it reinforces the connection between how words look and how they sound.
Tracing along as you read by pointing with your finger or a pencil can likewise be helpful for similar reasons. And holding a straight edge like a ruler or a piece of paper under the line as you read can facilitate following the line and smoothly transitioning from one line to the next.
Techniques like reading aloud, pointing and reinforcing the line all make reading more “physical” and make it easier to follow along in a more deliberate, steady manner.
8. Play to Your Strengths
Perhaps the most important of dyslexia hacks is a more general life hack that anyone can use: play to your strengths. If you’re not good at reading, definitely work to improve your reading, but also find ways of doing things that put less burden on your reading skills.
Similarly, if your strengths and more visual and spatial, look for ways of using visual and spatial representations of information and engage in activities that are more oriented towards visual and spatial skills. If you’re good with spoken language, make use of audiobooks, text-to-speech software and recording devices. Seek out activities that take advantage of your verbal skills.
On the other hand, you also want to play to your strengths and develop strategies to make sure you aren’t putting too much burden on skills that aren’t strengths. These hacks are some good tools to have in your toolbox for this side of your dyslexia treatment plan.
The most effective dyslexia treatment strategy is two-pronged: one one hand, you want to work hard to get your reading skills up to a point where your dyslexia interferes with your life as little as possible. Gemm Learning’s neuroscience-based software for dyslexia is one tool you can use to do this.
This report on dyslexia includes a warnings signs checklist for dyslexia and treatment options.
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