Dyslexia and Behavioral Difficulties

One very important element of dyslexia is the effect that it has on behavior. Many behavioral issues can manifest themselves when an individual’s dyslexia is not addressed and treated properly. These behavioral issues can take many different forms, but here are some that are common to a high percentage of dyslexics who have not received proper treatment for their dyslexia.

1. Avoidance

This is an extremely common behavioral issue among dyslexic children, and it used as a coping mechanism. A dyslexic will often use a variety of means to avoid reading, spelling or writing, simply because they realize the difficulty they have with language; they want to avoid all possible situations in which those difficulties might be exposed. A dyslexic child may start telling jokes, act out in other ways, or even run away to avoid situations that involve reading. A fellow tutor of mine had a student who would actually disappear from the classroom on a regular basis to avoid reading and spelling, resulting in teachers having to search for her throughout the school. The student didn’t hate being in school, she simply hated being put in a position where she knew that she would fail. Once she started private tutoring with my friend, and began to make progress, she stopped this behavior entirely. Often, a dyslexic child will face consequences for their avoidance techniques, but they will still choose to use them rather than facing a situation that may cause them humiliation. Likewise, at home, they use a variety of means to avoid doing homework, reading books, or engaging in any other activity that they find intimidating due to their language challenges. Sometimes, they avoid these things simply because they are so difficult and exhausting for them.

2. Resignation

Students with learning difficulties tend to become withdrawn from educational situations over time if their learning difficulties are not addressed. Many dyslexic students begin to lose motivation for academic pursuits because they feel that they are beyond help, and will not be able to learn as others do even if they put forth the effort. They become resigned to the difficulties they are facing, and as a result, their academic aspirations and hopes begin to disappear. Students with these difficulties may be perceived as being lazy, even though their behavior is more the result of them lacking confidence in their ability to ever succeed in the tasks that are given to them.

3. Acting Out

Dyslexic students who have not received treatment for their dyslexia may also begin to act out and have disciplinary issues. This can manifest itself in a number of ways. For students who are outgoing by nature, they may seek to interrupt academic work and reading time by telling jokes and distracting other students from the assigned task. This is a coping mechanism to draw attention away from their inability to perform at the level that is expected of them. Dyslexic children may also act out simply because of frustration; they see others doing work around them that makes them feel inadequate. As a result, they act out towards the students around them, as well as the teacher.

These are just a few of the behavioral consequences that can occur when a dyslexic child does not receive proper treatment for their learning challenges. With the proper treatment, these difficulties can be avoided, and the child can realize that while they learn differently, they are just as capable of succeeding as the students around them.


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