Coping skills

12 Coping Skills for students with dyslexia by Reading Horizons (…/growing-up-with-dyslexia-a…):

1. Understand that the only person you can compare yourself with is you.

Don’t compare yourself with other people. Just because someone else got an A while you got a B does not make them “better” than you. Instead compare that B with your previous score of a B- and realize that as long as your grade is improving, it’s a success!

2. Realize that you might need additional time.

Realize that people with dyslexia sometimes need more time to digest and process information. With each assignment have your end goal in mind: is it to understand a concept more in-depth or to practice critical thinking skills? As you allow yourself to take your time you’ll end up with a better grasp of the material because, as a student with dyslexia, you’ll be able to see concepts from multiple angles at the same time.

3. It’s okay to have a different way of completing assignments.

I wasn’t always a decent writer. In fact, I used to hate it! I had so many thoughts and I couldn’t figure out how to organize them in a way I was happy with. I also felt constricted by starting at the beginning of a paper (the introduction) because that’s just not the way I think. Since then, I have learned that sometimes I just need to sit down for an hour or so to organize my ideas before writing. I’ve learned that it’s okay to start in the middle of a paper and organize it later.

4. Understand that grades don’t necessarily reflect how much you know or how smart you are.

Do not allow your grades to put a label on you. Give yourself a minimum grade expectation (i.e. nothing lower than a B) but have your main goal be to learn. You’ll end up getting more out of your education and let go of some of your anxiety and insecurities.

5. Take advantage of high focus intervals.

I know that I have a higher quality of focus in the early morning hours. When I had a paper due in college, rather than staying up late to finish, I’d wake up super early in the morning to finish up. I also learned to take an assignment with me wherever I went. Rather than waiting around, I could pull out an assignment and work on it then. If you’re in the “zone,” take advantage of it and keep working—power through.

6. Chew gum to regain focus.

This trick has helped me so much! If I’m in the zone and I get distracted, chewing gum is a great way to re-set and continue working, especially when I’m writing.

7. Find a quiet place to do homework.

It sounds so simple, but having a quiet place to work makes all the difference. To this day I still need a quiet place so I can concentrate even in my work environment. It also helps to have consistency in where you do your homework. That way anxiety goes down because you know where everything is and don’t have to reorient yourself to a new environment.

8. Make it your goal to find out the “why.”

When learning new information in school, especially in college, I’d have to trick my brain into thinking that something was interesting in order to absorb that information. I would think to myself: “Someone at some point in time thought this was interesting/useful and I am bound and determined to find out what/why that is.” Once I found out the “why” it made it much easier to stay on task for longer periods of time and gain a more in-depth knowledge of the subject matter.

9. Stop taking notes on every detail.

People with dyslexia have a hard time filtering information, especially when it comes to taking notes. In high school you may have to ask your teacher to put the slides online but in college I never even had to ask. I could access them whenever I needed to. I know this sounds pretty ridiculous but I first tried it out in a world music class in college, so I figured that if it didn’t work out I’d be able to catch up anyway. I stopped worrying about taking notes on every little thing and would only jot something down if I thought I needed to explore the topic on my own. I noticed amazing results! Because of the way my brain processes information, I retained most of the lectures. I could hardly believe it!

10. Use pre-tests to find out what you don’t know and study accordingly.

This was especially helpful when prepping for finals. The teacher wouldn’t tell you what would be on the final so you were pretty much expected to know everything you’d been taught throughout the semester. Often there are tests with answer banks at the end of every chapter. As you begin to understand what you don’t know, you’ll then have more focus as to where you should spend your time studying. If pre-tests aren’t available, you can always pull out your graded tests from throughout the semester and see what questions you may have missed.

11. It’s not just about how hard you study but about how “smart” you study.

Find out what format the test will be in. People with dyslexia tend to think that they have to know EVERYTHING about a subject in order to do well on a test. This can be overwhelming, which is why many students with dyslexia tend to give up and “check-out” before a test. Depending on if it’s open-ended or multiple-choice should indicate the level of mastery needed for a particular test.

12. If you don’t know the answer during a test, use logic to figure it out.

Students with dyslexia rely heavily on memorization, especially during tests. Relax. If you come to a question you don’t particularly remember reading about, use logic to answer the question. We all know people who score very well on tests and hardly have to study. They can get away with it because they’ve learned to rely on logic and we can too.