What To Do When Diagnosed With Dyslexia
Ability Central shares the first steps to take after receiving a diagnosis of dyslexia. This article shares service providers, technology aids, and treatment options.
By Ability Central
28 November, 2023
Between 5 and 15 percent of Americans have dyslexia, but what do you do when you’re diagnosed? With so many things to consider after a dyslexia diagnosis—like service providers, tools, apps, and accommodations at work or school—it's easy to feel overwhelmed. If you or a loved one has recently received a dyslexia diagnosis, this article will answer questions like:
- How do I find a service provider for dyslexia?
- How can I help a child who has recently been diagnosed with dyslexia?
- How can I find help for dyslexia in adults?
- What dyslexia treatment options are available?
- What reading programs help with dyslexia?
- What technology options can help a person who has dyslexia?
- Where can I get more information about dyslexia?
How do I find a service provider for dyslexia?
One of the best things you can do after a dyslexia diagnosis is find a trusted professional to help with treatment. Organizations like The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) and the Center for Effective Reading Instruction (CERI) offer provider directories, including contact information for medical and educational experts who provide services for people with learning differences.
In addition, Ability Central maintains a searchable database for non-profits specializing in dyslexia. This database allows you to search by location and specialty to find a provider who fits your needs. Whether you need help with early intervention, school or workplace accommodations, or just want to learn more about dyslexia, the organizations in our database are a great place to start.
How can I help a child who has recently been diagnosed with dyslexia?
In the United States, schools are legally obligated to help students diagnosed with learning difficulties, including dyslexia. Talk to your child's teacher about creating an Individualized Education Plan, or IEP. An IEP is a structured, written plan that outlines your child's needs and how the school will help.
As an alternative or supplement to an IEP, you can also ask the school about a 504 plan. A 504 plan is a blueprint for how the school will provide support and remove barriers for a student with a disability. A 504 plan makes it possible for the student to continue learning alongside their friends and peers, without disrupting the student’s learning experience.
IEPs and 504 plans rely on accommodations and modifications to ensure a student with a disability has equal access to the full school experience. For a student with dyslexia, accommodations might look like extra time to complete tests or the use of speech-to-text software in the classroom. These accommodations allow a student with dyslexia to learn without lowering education or performance expectations.
On the other hand, teachers can also change assignments or curriculum to better suit a student with dyslexia’s learning style. These modifications, like allowing the student to use a calculator on a math test, give the student a chance to demonstrate what they know or can do at a skill level that makes them feel confident.
To understand the difference between a 504 and an IEP, see the breakdown on Understood.org.
To understand the difference between modifications and accommodations and what might help a student who has dyslexia, see Accommodations for Students with Dyslexia.
How can I find help for adults with dyslexia?
Treatment for adults with dyslexia usually focuses on workplace accommodations. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees with learning differences including dyslexia.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) suggests that individuals with dyslexia might find it useful to document workplace accommodation requests. Many employers make it simple to request disability accommodations, through something like a pre-made form. In workplaces that don’t already have these systems in place, a formal letter is an excellent way to request dyslexia accommodations. This letter should include things like a list of problematic work tasks as well as suggestions for accommodations to solve those problems. If you’re not sure what accommodations to ask for, encourage your employer to make suggestions or ask your doctor for ideas. For an example of an accommodations request letter, see the Job Accommodations Network (JAN).
In addition, it can be helpful to find a support group for adults with learning differences. See Long-Term Success Tips for People with Dyslexia for more information.
If you need a local expert for guidance, see Ability Central’s searchable database of nonprofit service providers.
What dyslexia treatment options are available?
Dyslexia is not a condition that requires medication or surgery. Instead, people with dyslexia benefit from interventions, modifications, and accommodations.
One accommodation that can be utilized at school, home, or work is a color overlay. Colored overlays cover text in a bright or unusual color, kind of like using a highlighter. The swap in colors forces the eye to switch up how fast it sends signals to the brain. For some people with dyslexia, a color overlay helps process letters and words in a way that makes sense to their brains.
What reading programs help with dyslexia?
Early intervention is key to minimizing the impact of dyslexia, particularly communication difficulties that may arise at work or in school. One of the first things an educational expert will do for someone with dyslexia is introduce a reading program, a method of learning that teaches the brain new ways to understand words.
The two most common programs used to help someone with dyslexia learn to read are the Orton-Gillingham and Multisensory methods.
- Multisensory teaching makes links between the visual (what we see), the auditory (what we hear), and the kinesthetic-tactile (what we feel) to create new pathways for the brain to follow. These links help people with dyslexia understand and retain the basic building blocks of reading.
- Orton-Gillingham, meanwhile, combines direct, multisensory teaching strategies with systematic, sequential lessons focused on phonics. An Orton-Gillingham lesson might involve listening to sounds, then saying the sounds out loud while writing them.
What technology options can help a person who has dyslexia?
There are a lot of apps and programs designed for people with dyslexia. Sometimes called Assistive Technology or AT, these programs offer tools or alternate learning methods to help people with dyslexia learn and practice their skills. Or, for people with dyslexia who have difficulty communicating with others, AT can lower some of the barriers we find in school or the workplace.
These tools include:
- Audiobook apps
- Reading, writing, and grammar programs
- Math apps
For a list of options in each category, see The Best Assistive Technology for Dyslexics.
For recommendations on how to assess whether an AT tool is a good fit for your specific needs, see Where to find free assistive technology tools for reading, writing, and math.
A great starting point for someone with dyslexia is purchasing a smartphone or other device with built-in accessibility tools. Ability Central offers a searchable database of smartphones that can help people with a disability. Each device’s listing includes information about its accessible features and benefits. An accessible smart device can be a powerful tool for someone with dyslexia, both for understanding ideas/information and for communicating with others.
Where can I get more information about dyslexia?
For more information about dyslexia, see:
- Seven Things You Might Not Know About Dyslexia
- What Does Dyslexia Look Like in Children and Adults?
- Long-Term Success Tips for People with Dyslexia
To learn more about other learning disabilities, see:
- Dysgraphia in Children and Adults: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatments
- A Quick Guide to Dyscalculia: Symptoms, Impact, and Treatment