What Does Dyslexia Feel Like?

I tutor children with dyslexia every day.  I see them struggle with three and four syllable words, and mis-read the middle or last syllable often.  I teach strategies to help them avoid this, but no one is 100% accurate.

The other day, I was reading an article about Germany, and the article had lots of long German words in it. I found that my mind automatically skipped over these long, hard, German words. I found myself hoping I could still understand the article, even though I was ignoring and bypassing these words.  

Words like:

Entschuldigung (excuse me)

Tageskalender (day calendar)

Videokamera (video camera)

einfache entscheidung (easy decision)

Then, I thought, A-HA!  This is how my students feel when they encounter a long word!  I need to go back and try to read and decode these words, even if they are in German, using the strategies I teach my kids.  And, I found it difficult, even though two of the words do look a lot like their English counterparts: Tageskalender (day calendar) and Videokamera (video camera).

The next day I told my student, Ella, of my experience.  She said to me: “And then, when you encounter that difficult word, and you are trying to figure out what it is…pretend there is a jackhammer going off in your brain and at the same time, you are panicking. That is what dyslexia feels like.”

Written by Heidi Kroner and her student Ella

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