Spell and Write

Dyslexia Strategies 2: Spelling and Handwriting

Teaching yourself to read is very difficult. Teaching yourself to spell better or improve your handwriting is much easier. Discussed in the page on reading strategies, the SpellReading system, forming clay letters, and learning phonics apply to spelling and handwriting as well as reading.


1. Saying and Writing letters: When Tony learned spelling words by saying them aloud, he had few problems but, as he wrote them on the paper, the letters ended up in a different order. For the word “chair” he had no problem repeating “C-H-A-I-R” but, while he said the letters in order, he would be writing something like hcari.

I would ask him to check the word, saying the letters as he did, but the word looked correct to him. He could check it several times and never see anything wrong.  I now think I should have have him write the words for practice instead of repeating them orally. Or it might really be that some people can never learn to spell.

2. Learn One Word a Day:  A suggestion that should be helpful to most students is to make a list of words that you misspell most often – especially on tests or term papers where you were really trying hard.  Keep this list in a notebook and choose ONE word each day. Copy the word five or ten times early in the day. When you have a short break during the day, copy it again. Then later in the day, test yourself several times. Test yourself again the next day. Check it off and choose a new word to work on. On weekends, you might review the words for the week.

If you learn 5 words a day for 52 weeks, you will know how to spell 260 new words. In four years of college, you will be able to spell over 1,000 words. As well as being able to spell these words, they will be easier for your to read.


The activity of forming clay letters should help with handwriting. It should help you focus on the shapes of the letters. Be sure to compare and discuss the differences in similar letters such as b, d, p, q, m and n.

1. Practice with apps: I was checking out of apps that my six-year old grandson might enjoy on his new ipad. There are dozens of apps for learning to write letters. It would be fun and helpful to do the same thing if you have problems forming letters correctly.

2. Teach yourself to write better:  This is really something most students can improve on their own. Get a copy of the letters of the alphabet, upper and lower case that you like. You might find one in a book on handwriting, on the internet, or ask a friend whose writing you admire to write one for you.

If you have a serious problem, you might stick to practicing only 3-5 letters a day. Most people can copy the whole alphabet at once. You might work on capital (upper case) letters for a week, then do lower case letters for a week. Then practice copying a few sentences at a time. As you get better, try to write a little faster. Try to write this way when taking notes or when taking a test. Continue to go back and compare your letters to what they should look like. Compare your writing from one week to another and notice the improvement.

Adaptations for Spelling and Writing

If you continue to have difficulty with reading, spelling, or handwriting

1. Use a laptop to take notes and write all assignments.
2. Ask permission to use a laptop to answer essay questions on tests.
3. Ask to borrow class notes from another student.
4. Ask permission to tape lectures.
5. Ask the office of student disabilities for a “scribe” who will take notes for you, who will take dictation when you need to write a paper, and who will write your answers on tests.
6. Use a speech to text softward program to write.

The next Dyslexia Strategy is   Dyslexia Math

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