October is the start of the academic year for students around the world. For both new and returning students, studying in 2021 can be overwhelming, especially when over 50% of students struggle with chronic procrastination. Learning can be even more difficult for those with dyslexia – a condition where reading, spelling and writing is a greater challenge.
Dyslexia is more common than you might think. The exact figure ranges from 7%1 to 16%2. We've taken all these statistics and averaged them to get 13%, which equates to around 1 billion people worldwide.
Today (October 7th) is International Dyslexic Awareness Day, so here are four great ways to study even more effectively with dyslexia:
A lack of confidence is often worse than dyslexia itself. Having dyslexia does not mean you are any less intelligent. A 2001 National Institute of Health study3 demonstrated that dyslexia is not tied to your IQ.
Some of the most famous and brilliant minds have had dyslexia, including Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein and Maggie Aderin-Pocock. Dyslexia isn't something you grow out of – it's part of you, embrace it and own it!
As soon as you receive work, start it – even if you only spend a few minutes on it! This taps into a phenomenon known as the Ovsiankina effect - where starting and then interrupting a task makes you more likely to resume the task at the next available opportunity.
Working with dyslexia encourages you to plan ahead and manage your time better, often building a better work ethic than someone without dyslexia. Just because a task may take you a bit longer, doesn’t mean you can’t do it well with proper preparation!
We live in a world of information overload. It can be daunting to process everything at once. So don't. Break it down into smaller pieces. Instead of writing long documents which can be overwhelming to revisit, write short-form notecards, either on paper or on a laptop using an app such as Supernotes. Niklas Luhmann discovered that this was a very effective way to work, and that's why he invented the Zettelkasten system for storing knowledge.
Finding the right visual cues for you is important. Try writing on different coloured papers with different coloured pens – some people find that writing with black pen on yellow paper helps them to focus.
If you are typing, you can of course still play around with background colours, but there are also a lot of cool fonts nowadays designed specifically to help dyslexic readers. There's free options (OpenDyslexic) as well as some paid alternatives (Dyslexie), but unfortunately there is one-size-fits all solution. The best font is the one you find most readable – stick with it! Use a browser extension to change all the fonts when you are browsing the web to be the same, if you are using a e-reader always use the same font and finally write all of your essays in the same font. This seems obvious but will make a huge difference.
All in all, these four tips are just a few ideas that might inspire you to try different learning techniques. There isn't a single solution, so experiment with different ideas and find out what works for you. Iteration until you find the right workflow is key. There are great in-depth guides and helpful resources at the European Dyslexia Association, and if you are part of an educational institution make sure you reach out to them.
If you've found this article helpful, feel free to tweet us @supernotesapp – we'd love to hear your thoughts! Also do give Supernotes a whirl, our notecard format is favoured by learners coming from all sorts of different backgrounds!
Dyslexia International (2021) - https://dyslexia-international.org/↩
Dyslexia Action found that 16% of the UK population are dyslexic (2017)↩
Study finds dyslexia is not tied to IQ – https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/nih-funded-study-finds-dyslexia-not-tied-iq↩
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