Language and Learning Implictions

Margaret Byrd Rawson, former President of the International Dyslexia Association (IDA)

"Dyslexic students need a different approach to learning language from that employed in most classrooms. They need to be taught, slowly and thoroughly, the basic elements of their language- the sounds and the letters which represent them- and how to put these together and take them apart. They have to have lots of practice in having their writing hands, eyes, ears, and voices working together for conscious organization and retention of their learning."

How does dyslexia affect language development?

Well, it affects it a lot. Dyslexia starts to significantly affect language development when students become more experienced spellers and readers (around third or fourth grade) (Hogan, 2008).

Since dyslexia is a continuum, it will affect the language development and performance of students in different ways. Since the classroom demands increase as students progress through school, a student with dyslexia may not be able to meet those expectations. Since students with dyslexia may also have a slower processing speed, they might not finish assignments on time. Since they are re-wiring their brain to try and understand written language, it most likely will take them longer to complete classwork.

In addition, when students begin to learn the alphabet and also learn to read, they all struggle with grasping this new concept. The difference between students with dyslexia and students without it is that students with dyslexia do not stop struggling with language. They don't outgrow it. So, when they are expected to know how to spell words and read longer passages, they might not be able to with as much ease as other students.

These students will most likely have delayed written language development- especially expressively.

Research has shown that students with this language learning disability score lower on phonological tasks in comparison to typically developing students with normal literacy abilities (Vandewalle, et al., 2012). Phonological abilities are the underlying foundation for all language (spoken and written) so it can affect language abilities.

Socially, children might not want to participate in class. They may feel that they are unintelligent even though research has proven that IQ and dyslexia are not directly related. They might fear being made fun of for not being able to spell or read quite as well as their peers. It could be detrimental to their social development.

There are strategies that can be utilized in the classroom and at home to help decrease the struggle with language; however, there is no "cure" for dyslexia and, unfortunately, it is something that the student will have to carry with them for their entire life.