Being able to touch type is an invaluable skill for children (from about the age of 8) and adults with dyslexia. Once touch typing becomes an unconscious skill the writer has more capacity to process thoughts and think about what they are writing. Touch typing removes the need to physically move a pen while thinking of how to spell a word, something that those with dyslexia can struggle with.
Touch typing aids spelling as well because fingers learn patterns for common words and so you don’t have to consciously think about how to spell, your fingers just do it for you!
There are both bought and free touch typing tutors for all ages. However with dyslexic children it is probably best to buy one specifically written for them, such as Englishtype (https://englishtype.com/) or Nessy Fingers (https://www.nessy.com/uk/product/nessy-fingers/). With older teenagers and adults Kaz Typing Tutor (https://kaz-type.com/) or Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing (http://www.mavisbeaconfree.com/) would be good. As with all skills practise makes perfect, but the rewards are worth the initial effort.
If your child squints when reading or complains the words move on the page or keep losing their place and need to use their finger under the words, it could be that their eyes are not working properly even if they have 20/20 vision.
Visual processing skills like tracking, eye teaming and visual perception are developmental skills that all children need in addition to seeing clearly. If these skills don’t develop normally, children can struggle with demanding visual tasks like reading. Each year as the print gets smaller, school performance drops, and visual fatigue sets in causing children to easily become frustrated and distracted. All too often these children appear to have a learning disability or attention problems when the real culprit is poor visual processing skills. Glasses can’t help, but eye exercises can!
There is a brilliant website called Eye Can Learn (http://eyecanlearn.com/) which has exercises for all these difficulties, all based on the computer. Try them with your child, make them fun not learning, and with repetition your child should gain better eye movement and control. This can help both with reading and sports which require quick eye movements to follow the ball, for example.
International research has shown that primary school children who watched television with subtitles turned on were more likely to reach the expected standards of reading than those who did not. (The Times, 27 May 2019)
Broadcasters are now considering whether to make same-language subtitles appear automatically on cartoons and other children’s programmes in the light of research showing that this can have a dramatic impact on literacy. Parents are already able to turn on subtitles manually but few do so. If broadcasters were to supply them by default parents would still be able to disable them but would have to consciously choose to do so.
The take-away message is to switch on the subtitles if your child is watching any TV channel including Sky, YouTube, Amazon and Netflix. Any opportunity which familiarises your child with words will help improve literacy skills and you don’t have to wait until your child goes to school, start doing this from a very young age.
The British Dyslexia Association (BDA) has produced a short video called See dyslexia differently to address misconceptions young people may have about dyslexia. The animation shows both the real challenges dyslexic children face whilst also acknowledging their strengths and potential. It can be found here
Dyslexia does not only affect reading and writing but is more to do with information processing. People with dyslexia may have difficulty processing and remembering information they see and hear, which can affect learning and the acquisition of literacy skills. Dyslexia can also impact on other areas such as organisational skills.
It is important to remember that there are positives to thinking differently. Many dyslexic people show strengths in areas such as reasoning and in visual and creative fields.