During a recent IEP meeting, a special education teacher said to me. “Every good educator knows that bad behavior has to be dealt with first before any learning can happen.” While there is some truth to what she said, it just simply not the case with dyslexic students. With dyslexic students, poor or negative behavior is a direct result from their difficulty with learning in the classroom.
Disruptive behavior can take on a lot of forms:
Becoming the class clown
Refusing to do an assignment
Talking to or disturbing other students
Irritating or disruptive behavior
Intentionally making noise
Going to the pencil sharpener and talking to other students on the way, etc.
One adult dyslexic once said to me, "It was better to be in trouble than it was to be dumb."
Students with dyslexia can also start to withdrawal. These students intentionally start to fade into the background. Their thought is: “If I disappear, no one will notice me and I will not be called on to answer questions or to read aloud.”
Another common tactic is avoidance. Students will:
Doodle or draw on a paper instead of working on it
Go to the pencil sharpener many times
Play with things that have been hidden in a desk or a pocket
Play with a pencil
Go to the nurse
Stay at home because of recurring stomach aches and headaches, etc.
One of the most enlightening experiences of my life concerning classroom accommodations happened when I was first learning more about dyslexia and thus, learning about classroom accommodations. Together, a second grade classroom teacher and I implemented classroom accommodations for a few students we had identified as having dyslexia. We did it to help lessen their frustration and to help them learn more effectively. What amazed us both was the impact those simple accommodations had on their behavior in the classroom. This improved behavior resulted in a better classroom environment and it made life easier for both of us!
Classroom accommodations help at home with improved behavior, lessfrustration over homework and on and on. A parent of one of the students I have mentioned in the previous paragraph told me that her son's lessons with the Barton Reading and Spelling System and the classroom accommodations he had been receiving resulted in such improved behavior at home that relatives noticed. She also mentioned that his improved self-image resulted in his being more willing to keep his room clean. (What an unexpected result!)
Classroom accommodations have a positive impact on teachers as well. As teachers learn about and implement appropriate accommodations, it changes the way they think about that student. No longer is the student "low" or "slow" or "a little bit lazy." That student is now a student with different learning needs that is "capable," "intelligent," and "willing" to learn.
Books such as: The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan by Ben Foss, Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz, MD and Helping Students Take Control of Everyday Executive Functions by Paula Moraine, M. Ed. are a few of our favorite books. Community resources are also available through Raising Special Kids Arizona. Of course, one of the best resources is your child's Academic Therapist (Tutor) who can coach you on specific accommodations for your child.
So yes, the appropriate classroom accommodations for a particular child really do go together like salt and pepper! We hope we have been of help to you this week. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions!