You have noticed that your dyslexic child can talk about subjects really well - they are articulate and demonstrate a lot of knowledge. However, when it comes to writing you are left wondering if the same person has written it. There may be a few lines, lots of spelling mistakes, no punctuation, perhaps some very long sentences which don't make sense and it absolutely doesn't reflect your child's level of knowledge. Dyslexia does affect writing – but there are ways around it.
The key culprit is working memory. Working memory is our ability to juggle information in our brain for a short period of time, whilst we are manipulating it. All dyslexic children have a weakness with their working memory which means that they find it difficult to juggle lots of different brain processes at the same time. When they are writing, they are having to do just this.
This leads to all sorts of writing issues. You will find that your child suddenly can’t spell words which you know they know how to do when you ask them to spell them individually, which can be really frustrating. Their written work will be disorganised, and the ideas won’t flow. There may be very little written down and little detail added in. You may have noticed that they can write more and use better vocabulary if you write for them. This is because you have taken some of the load away from their working memory and they can show their ability better. However, your child needs to learn how to write well independently.
The answer to this is for your child to learn a good writing process which works for them and breaks the process down into manageable chunks. This is a really great thing to do for several reasons:
1. If your dyslexic child learns a writing process, it means that they will know how to approach any piece of writing they do.
2. When it is broken down into manageable chunks, the load on your child’s working memory is lessened, which in turn means that they can produce a piece of writing which reflects their ability.
I teach a 6- stage writing process to all my dyslexic students which gives them a system to stick to which works for all students – regardless of age and stage of education. A key part of the process, which all dyslexics struggle with, is how to get from brainstorming an idea to organising those ideas into a coherent structure. It also focuses on adding detail into paragraphs and then putting an editing and proof reading stage firmly and effectively in place.
Your child may really struggle with the brainstorming aspect too - their mind may go pretty blank. so they will need to be taught techniques to help overcome this.
I am launching a 6-week online programme which will teach your child my writing process and help them overcome the difficulties they are facing. I have aimed this initially at students who are getting ready for their GCSE exams, so that they can obtain the best grades possible. Spaces are limited because your child will be working with me on a one to one basis over the 6 weeks, as well as receiving unlimited email support.
If you would like free tips and advice to help your dyslexic child then please come and join me in my Facebook group here.