The “b” and “d” of Dyslexia Tutoring

There are few letters that frustrate dyslexics more than lowercase “b” and lowercase “d”. Lowercase “q” can prove to be just as problematic. Among the common symptoms of dyslexia, the mixing up of “b”, “d” and “q”, is by far, one of the most prominent. In my years of dyslexia tutoring, the majority of my dyslexic students have struggled with these letters.¬† The major problem lies in the shape, because it stays the same regardless of whether it is a “b”, “d” or “q”; the only difference is that it is flipped around and inverted! To the non-dyslexic mind, these differences are sufficient to make these different letters distinct; however, for a dyslexic, this is not the case.

For a dyslexic individual to distinguish these letters, it helps to give them a concrete, tactile method that they can use to tell the difference between them. One method that I use is to have my students take both their hands, put them in front of them, and curl their fingers into fists. Then, they put their thumbs up like they are giving somebody that gesture. Finally, they put their knuckles together with their palms facing inward, making a shape that looks a bit like an old poster bed. In fact, their hands make a shape that sort of looks like the word “bed”, with the “b” on the left and the “d” on the right. My students often use this gesture to distinguish between “b” and “d”, especially when they are first starting their dyslexia tutoring.

With dyslexia tutoring, a dyslexic¬†individual’s skill at identifying “b”, “d” and “q”, can greatly increase. For some dyslexic individuals, especially the ones who are severely dyslexic, these letters can remain a challenge even after they have received dyslexia treatment and tutoring. However, these individuals generally learn tricks and strategies (like the one I previously described) that help them succeed in decoding those letters.


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