Homeadults with learning disabilities3 Tips To Make Reading Easier For Adults and Teens With Dyslexia
A pathway between stacks of books in front of bookshelves full of books.

Words I’ve been confusing recently:

Think and Thing
International and Internet
Misquote and Mosquito
Fetal and Fatal

My dyslexia makes reading an adventure. While that’s not a bad thing all the time, it does slow me down when I need to get work done. Being a writer, that means my productivity is impacted.

Dyslexic students face similar challenges. Most of the tips I’ve seen are geared towards young dyslexics who are still learning how to read, which is a great thing, but what about the adults who still struggle? How can you help dyslexic teens and adults with heavy reading loads cope?

Here are some things that have helped me.

Take Off the Pressure
I love to read, but I can’t do it in all environments. If people are talking around me, there’s too much noise or the light levels aren’t right, it doesn’t happen. The story’s the same when I’m constantly interrupted or under a lot of stress.

The most helpful thing you can do to help me is to keep noise levels down and allow me extra time to get what I need to done. That doesn’t mean you need to be mouse-silent all the time, but having a few hours of quiet time a day can work wonders.

It’s also important to realize that it’s possible to become burnt out by reading too much. If your dyslexic friend is obligated to do a lot of reading for school or work, don’t pressure them to read for fun. Even dyslexics who would otherwise read in their free time need breaks during heavy reading times.

A tablet with the kindle program opened on it, sitting on top of a green plastic lawn table.

Provide Format Alternatives
There’s nothing quite like reading physical books, but they’re not always ideal to the dyslexic brain. I’ve discovered e-books and audio-books can be incredibly helpful alternatives.

E-reader programs like Kindle are customization, which helps with formatting and color, while screen readers can alleviate some visual stress by turning text into speech.

When there is no alternative to physical books, there are certain techniques and devices available to help do things like keeping place on the page, magnifying text and even sometimes reading text aloud.

Many cell phones have text recognition apps, where you take a picture of what you’re trying to read with the app and have it read the text aloud to you. There are also pens available that do the same thing when you run them over the lines of text. Naturally, not all of these devices are created equal, so it’s important to read reviews and experiment when possible.

Part of the problem is that so many people stress the act of reading instead of the transfer of information. If concepts are absorbed and implemented, why does it matter how they’re learned? Reading is an essential skill in today’s world, but it shouldn’t be the only way available to study.

Let the Student Lead
One of the advantages of being an adult dyslexic is that almost all of us have discovered some of what works for us, and some of what doesn’t. What works for one person may not work for another.

Even in individual cases, some things may work sometimes, but not others. In my case, audio books work sometimes, but usually, reading on my tablet is easier for me. I find having more than one option available immensely helpful.

Some of the low-tech accommodations, like keeping place with a bookmark, using overlays, or pausing to stare into space, may seem strange or juvenile to an onlooker. Despite the fact it may look strange, we do these things because they help us. Judgement is both harmful and unnecessary.

One of the many strengths dyslexia gives us is the ability to know ourselves. We can usually adapt to many situations, but sometimes, we need a little help from others.

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