“We Can All Learn,” Ensign, June 2009, 71
Since being diagnosed with dyslexia as a first-grader, I have come to understand that my disability doesn’t prevent me from learning. It just means that I learn differently than many of my peers. Here are a few things that teachers have done to create an ideal learning environment for me; the ideas may also be helpful for those teaching other people who struggle with learning disabilities.
Visual aids. Because it helps me to both see and hear a subject, I appreciate it when teachers provide pictures or other visual aids relating to the lesson. However, an excessive amount of text, illustrations, or photos (for me, more than three or four visual aids) can prove distracting from what the teacher or other class members are saying.
Focused material. Rather than presenting all pictures, notes, or quotes at the beginning of a lesson, place them on the board as they are discussed. This can help all learners—including those who do not have learning disabilities—focus on the current discussion.
Short quotes. Long quotes posted on the board can be overwhelming and difficult to comprehend for people with dyslexia. For me, keyword summaries work better. Similarly, it’s difficult for most class members to read and comprehend long scriptures or passages of text without a discussion. I feel grateful when teachers pause during or after the reading of passages to provide opportunities for questions, explanations, and clarification.
Sensitivity to readers. As a child, I dreaded reading aloud because I was self-conscious about my ability to do so. When a teacher asked us to “go around the room” and each take a turn reading, I would cringe. Although I don’t mind reading aloud now, I appreciate teachers who are sensitive to class members’ preferences and abilities.
These suggestions are based on my experience. Some people may like more visual aids than what I am comfortable with, for instance. The best way to find out the particular needs of those you teach is to ask them.
I am thankful for leaders and teachers who have taken the time to find out about my specific learning needs. The compassion they have shown in doing so has made a tremendous difference in my gospel learning experience.