Dyslexia and Trouble With Similar Words

Since dyslexia can cause individuals to have trouble with decoding words, many dyslexics have trouble with similar words. For example, during my years in dyslexia tutoring, I have seen students mix up the words “staring” and “starting” dozens, and probably even hundreds of times. Dyslexia tutors often have to retrain students to sound out all the letters and letter combinations they see in words, rather than just looking at part of a word and then guessing. Dyslexic students get in the habit of guessing as a coping mechanism, and they use this strategy until they are taught proper phonics and decoding by a good dyslexia tutor.

To remedy this, we focus a lot on accurate decoding during dyslexia tutoring sessions. There are many activities beneficial to increasing decoding ability, such as having students read a series of words that are somewhat similar, having them stop and sound out words which they read incorrectly, and and having them practice reading “nonsense words” (words without any real meaning that are spelled out phonetically). Dyslexia tutors focus a lot on decoding, because it is an absolutely necessary skill to improving reading and spelling.


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