Social-Emotional Impacts of Dyslexia

  • Dyslexia can pose unique social and emotional challenges for students. Students with dyslexia may have other areas of learning that come easily to them, and when they are confronted with text they cannot decode or words they cannot spell, these difficulties are unexpected. They may feel like “something is wrong” with them because reading and writing should come as easily to them as do other areas of learning. Some students’ cognitive abilities can heighten self-awareness of their struggles which can lead to feelings of frustration and failure.

    All students demonstrate strengths and challenges across educational and non-academic areas. When working with students with dyslexia, it is essential to help them come to understand that they have a variety of abilities and are not limited by the challenges they may face.

    Tips For Supporting Students’ Social-Emotional Needs

    It is important for parents or guardians of a child with dyslexia to recognize and support their feelings, thoughts and ideas by discussing how the student is impacted by dyslexia. Students need adults to model positive attitudes in the face of adversity who will teach them to believe in themselves. They thrive with praise which acknowledges their efforts rather than praise which rewards the outcome.

    In working with students, it will help to identify achievable goals, celebrate small successes, recognize and celebrate effort and progress in addition to results, identify underlying feelings (such as fear or frustration), and validate them while supporting a focus on effort over achievement.

    Specific Social-Emotional Supports for Students

    • Together with the student, identify a trusted adult at school to whom the student can turn for support and
      encouragement

    • Teach students self-advocacy skills. Use scenarios to practice this skill set. See the section entitled, “Self
      Advocacy and Voice for Students with Dyslexia” for more information

    • Explain dyslexia to the student while reinforcing age-appropriate skills in other subject areas

    • Support the development of skills and nonacademic talents in any valued activity to enhance self-esteem,
      such as athletics, the arts and other creative ventures

    • Find opportunities for these students to help others or be leaders for others during different activities

    • Promote balance between reading and writing and other preferred extracurricular activities

    • See outside resources to support the student’s social emotional well-being

    • Join in-person or virtual communities of people who are facing similar struggles

    More than Their Dyslexia

    All students demonstrate strengths and challenges across educational and non-academic areas. When working with students with dyslexia, it is essential to help them come to understand that they have a variety of abilities and are not limited by the challenges they may face.

    The goal is to support the development of resilient students. Resiliency is defined as the capacity to withstand or recover quickly from difficult circumstances. When students with dyslexia are resilient, they can face their challenges and find ways to handle them.