My son is 17 years old with dyslexia and phonics issues. He currently reads at a 4th-5th grade level. What do you think is the best course of action for him?


Michael Schoch, Noodle Intern

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That's a really important question and one that will ultimately require a very personal answer depending upon your son's needs, hopes and circumstances. What I can do is guide you towards some helpful resources written by experts in the field.

A great place to start is Noodle's Dyslexia Topic Page. The topics page will point you towards all kinds of articles and learning resources that will give you ideas of the support options available.

One of the best things you can do is try to place your son in an environment that's as academically advantageous as possible. You might start by choosing a school that is particularly effective at working with dyslexic students. The article, What Makes a School Dyslexia-Friendly? discusses how to find the right school for you.

Aside from finding the ideal school environment, you might look into resources that can be used at home. Assistive technology is available that can perform tasks like transcribe speech into text, predict words when typing, or sync text with the voice of an audio book narrator.

Lastly, finding communities of people willing to discuss dyslexia is a great idea. Noodle expert Jamie Martin has compiled some great ideas for finding communities ,both local and online.

I hope this gives you some ideas and options. Dyslexia is extremely challenging for many students and parents, but it's important to realize that you're not alone and that there are very experienced, educated people out there who can help!

Nedda Gilbert, MSW, Educational Consultant, and Author

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If you think he is ready for college, here are some terrific schools that will cater to your child's unique needs and learning disabilities: My guess is that for the first two colleges listed below, your son's reading level is within the school's norm and they can be helpful.

Landmark College - a college fully devoted to special needs students and supporting students with a range of learning disabilities such as dyslexia. You can learn more about it on the school's website.

Beacon College--features a similar support system and focus as Landmark. Learn more on its website.

Drexel University offers a specialized Support Program for students with Learning Disabilities.

Hofstra University --Program for Academic Learning Skills (PALS)

Marist College

University of Connecticut

University of Vermont- ASPIRE. You can visit its website here.

There are others. The ones I mentioned are some of the more well known. The first two - Landmark and Beacon - feature a 100% focus on students with learning issues. You don't mention where you live. Please feel free to contact us again and we can possibly find you school resources in your geographic area.

Lisa Beymer, University Professor, Special Education Teacher

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Hi, Kelly!

I agree with the suggestions and resources listed above. I hope to provide some additional thoughts as your son moves into post-secondary school, training, or work. Whatever route your son takes, there are resources available for you/him to advocate for to ensure he is successful.

  • Post-secondary school: If you're looking into community college, University, etc. you will want to make sure to connect with the school's Disability Resource Center (DRC - they may also be called something different). Your son continues to have rights to educational supports as long as he has a confirmed and documented disability. The DRC should sit down and meet with your son one-on-one in order to set up supports for his studies. For example, in teaching undergraduate and graduate courses, I have had at least 1 student a semester course who comes to me with an agreement from the DRC. The agreement states what type of accommodations a Professor needs to provide to support the student. Some that I have provided are: audio-recording of lectures, transcriber, larger font on presentations and assignment materials, extended time on tests or quizzes, extended time on assignments, close captioning on videos, etc. The DRC can help you find the accommodations that will best fit your son's needs. For dyslexia, it seems that audio-recorded lectures, textbooks on CD, larger and/or specialized font (like the one mentioned by Jessie in her answer above), extended time on tests or quizzed, and extended time on assignments might be appropriate.

  • Training: Some of the information about post-secondary school applies here as well, namely some of the accommodations that the instructors can provide for your son. Though, you will need to ensure that you communicate with the training facility about the legal rights that your son has in their particular environment (it seems it would vary state to state, as well as facility to facility). But if your son has the skills to complete tasks in the manner set forward, he surely has the right to train and work.

  • Work: Your son does have legal rights within a work environment, very similar to you and me. But there may be additional considerations to be made, depending on the job he applies for. You would want to check with the Human Resources department to ensure these considerations are met. In addition, I would suggest you carefully examine the environment in which he would be working. Think about the timeline of work to complete, the methods in which work is expected, the employees working with him, etc. He would want to make sure that the environment he is in feels comfortable to him, so he feels that he can be successful. (For example, I would not fit well working in a crowded environment with repetitive tasks. A cashier position would not fit me well, because I know that the crowded environment would drain me of my energy very quickly, and I do not perform well with tasks that are repetitive. Instead, I like small-group work environments where I can expect change and variety every day.) It would be beneficial to reflect upon your son's most successful moments in high school and see what sort of environment and work he was doing. This could indicate a good direction to go forward in.

In any of these circumstances, make sure you communicate what has been found to be successful in supporting your son in the past. What works now will surely help him as he moves forward! All the best to your son and to you!

Jessie Voigts, Travel writer, international educator, mom

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Our daughter has dyslexia - here's a few tips on how she's worked hard to live with it! 1. We tried the Susan Barton method at our local library. We worked with a volunteer tutor to retrain her brain when she saw letters - it included tapping, and quickly helped her reframe looking at letters, and started her on the path to reading much more quickly and with greater understanding.

  1. A very smart man made a font for dyslexics - and it's free for home use:

  2. She also listens to audiobooks much more than reading physical books (for fun, and for learning). It's allowed her to explore her interests without getting frustrated.

Good luck!

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