Reading Between the Lines: The Truth About Dyslexia & Dysgraphia

What are the differences?

Dyslexia and dysgraphia are both learning difficulties. Dyslexia may primarily affect your reading. Dysgraphia affects your writing. While they are different, these two can be easy to confuse. They share symptoms and often occur together. This video can help you tell them apart.

The Social-Economic Impact 

If you have dyslexia and dysgraphia, you may feel inadequate or even pigeonholed. You might feel unmotivated or careless when it comes to reading and writing. As someone with dyslexia, you may often miss the nuances of language while reading or struggle with inference, sarcasm, and verbal jokes. If you have dysgraphia, your writing might have been labelled as ‘sloppy’ or criticized for lacking attention to detail. In some cases, you could feel anxious and/or unwilling to tackle studies involving significant amounts of reading or writing. Remember, neither of these conditions indicates a lack of intelligence. 

What Can You Do?

Reasonable Adjustments are key to ensuring that you, with either condition, are not unfairly impacted in your ability to learn and achieve. What is important to note that these adjustments differ depending on your condition.

Supporting you with dyslexia will involve providing specific instruction on how to identify sounds, understanding how letters represent sounds in speech, and effectively decoding words so they make sense to you as a reader. You might need extra time for reading or writing, but please note that requesting Extra Time in exams is only possible if you can provide documented assessment results no older than two years or if your needs are demonstrated in a current Education and Health Care Plan.

Reasonable Adjustments for Dyslexia & Dysgraphia

Many Reasonable Adjustments may simply require you to change your approach and adapt your learning methods, rather than relying on additional tools and expensive Assistive Technologies. Reasonable Adjustments might include:

  • Provide handouts containing the main points instead of expecting you to copy text from a whiteboard or take notes.

  • Allow you extra time to respond, as individuals with dyslexia may often require additional time to process information.

  • Utilise Assistive Technologies like Text-to-Speech or virtual overlays to enhance your reading comprehension.

  • Ensure that written instructions are clear and easily understandable, and repeat them if necessary.

  • Implement visual planners and colour-coded timetables.

  • Break down information into smaller chunks, making it easier to process as bite-sized pieces of information.

If you have dysgraphia, you may often need more time for tasks involving writing, although this might not be necessary for reading activities. Here are specific adjustments tailored to support you with dysgraphia:

  • Develop typing skills, allowing you to present written work in digital format.

  • Permit alternative forms of demonstrating knowledge and understanding of topics, such as responding through recorded Q&A, instead of relying solely on writing.

  • Break down written assignments into manageable steps.

  • Use wide-ruled or graph paper to aid in writing alignment.

  • Provide examples of completed assignments that you can use as a reference for effective structuring.

  • Guide you toward utilising spider diagrams and/or mind-mapping software to assist in organising your writing structure.

Final Thoughts

You don’t often self-declare with dysgraphia as a learner. Enrollment systems often lack a tick-box for dysgraphia, unlike dyslexia. This is why having ALS summary discussions related to self-declarations is extremely important. 

As learners, it is crucial to invest time in determining whether your learning is affected, primarily through reading, writing, or both, by posing the appropriate questions to best identify and implement your additional learning support needs.