A Little Help with Dyslexics Writing or Reading “d” and ” b” Backwards and Other Equally Annoying Letters

When we have workshops we always ask the question, “What do you think Dyslexia is?”  The answers always start with, “backwards letters like “b” and “d”. Often this  is all people are aware of.

Most children reverse and turn letters upside down until about grade three. This is a directionality issue. “Directionality”  for a person is the understanding and awareness of where left, right, up, down, above, below, etc. are in relation to where they are standing or sitting at a given point in time.  Many Dyslexics have difficulty with their awareness of direction and often experience it their whole lives.

“Directionality” is also understanding directions for writing tasks such as “write your name in the top right-hand corner,” “draw a line under the word ______,” “draw a picture of yourself in the middle of the paper”. This confusion also extends to letters like b and d, n and u, p and q, m and w, any numbers with two or more numbers like 21 and 12. Some also write backward, from right to left and/or the letters appearing like ordinary writing seen in a mirror.

There is a little trick that often helps the Dyslexic student figure out which way their troublesome letters such as “b” and “d” go.

The letters are normally written in black text. This makes letters that are the same shape such as b, d, p, q hard to differentiate from each other. The children we work with often ask why these four letters are all the same shape.

The solution we use is colour. Dyslexics respond well to colour and by colouring the letters specific colours or making them out of coloured Play Doh or modelling clay they can differentiate them from each other more easily.

By making them out of Play Doh or other modelling mediums you help the child to kinesthetically “feel” the letters which helps them internalize the directions and shapes of the letters.

Also provide a cheat sheet for them to look at with the letters coloured. We suggest laminating a copy for their school desks and at home.

With these teaching methods and aids they will soon have the direction of the letters right. These kids are very visual and will generally commit these coloured images easily to memory.

Note: Make sure you use the same colour for each letter all the time. Otherwise they can get confused.

Co-founder of Dyslexia Victoria Online

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