Is Spelling a Challenge for YOU?

Are dyslexia spelling problems one of the hurdles you want to overcome as a dyslexic?

After having worked with dyslexic individuals of all ages for over twenty years, I’m still to meet someone who doesn’t have spelling issues.

How does the average person learn to spell?

Most people who are not dyslexic learn to read and spell in a phonic way. They sound out the word and remember that certain letter combinations make certain sounds. The more they read the easier it is for them to recognise the words and eventually, reading is almost on autopilot.

When it comes to writing, they are able to reverse the process and spell words as they have seen before on paper. If they make a spelling mistake, they can look at the word and if it ‘doesn’t look right’, they will know to change the spelling.

Interestingly, many of my dyslexic clients read quite well too – but spelling is a totally different story with them experiencing dyslexia spelling problems,

They also improve reading in time, but often they are guessing a word or there is so much effort going into reading, that they don’t pay attention to what they read – and comprehension suffers. It means that they need to read a text several times to add meaning.

Dyslexia spelling problems

Why doesn’t that work if you are dyslexic?

Sounding out is not the fastest way for dyslexic children to learn to read, but with much effort and perseverance, they get there. Unfortunately, more often than not, the joy of reading is left behind with the effort required.

There are much better ways for them to read for full comprehension, without reading a passage more than once. It does not involve sounding out.

The phonics-based approach works for the average student. Yet, dyslexic students are visual learners, while most students would learn the auditory way.

While reading will eventually achieve some success, spelling is still badly affected.

Dyslexia Spelling Problems

How do dyslexic students learn to spell?

Being either visual or tactile learners, we use a specific approach to break down the words into visual patterns, rather than soundbites.

There is a process that is required to set the foundation for this style of learning. All you need is plasticine, a board (single-coloured) and a cutting knife:

  1. Get some good plasticine that doesn’t dry out and use it to form the letters of the lower-case alphabet. Choose a print-type that is simple and pleasing to you.

  3. Create all 26 letters of the alphabet and put them into four rows, making gaps between small groups of letters. The gaps can be where you choose them to be. Here is just an example:

a b c   d e f  g

h i j   k l   m n

o p q   r s t

u v w   x y z


  1. Cover all lines except the first and try to visualize every letter group, so you can see YOUR plasticine letter when you close your eyes or look up to the ceiling.

  3. Try to remember the first row forwards and backwards, in a visual way

  5. Only if that is easy, uncover the second row and repeat until you know the entire alphabet forwards and backwards.

  7. It will be a matter of reading off your letters from an imaginary board.

  9. This will be the way we learn to spell. By learning the alphabet this way, you have learned to spell a 26-letter word. Every future word will be easy in comparison.

Want to l to spell better?

Most people do not even know the alphabet; they only know a song, the alphabet song. When you ask them to tell you quickly which letter comes after the ‘k’, most people will need to sing it to get the answer.

Now you will really get to know it.

After having set the bar quite high with knowing a 26-letter word, you can start spelling others.

I am inviting you to join me on a one-year challenge to learn 1000 new words.

I have given many examples of new words and words that are often difficult for visual learners in my daily Instagram post, which you will find here:

It gives you a visual reference, sometimes a meaning, sometimes tips on how to best spell a few words every day. The aim is to add 1000 new words in one year, although I am sure you will know some of the words already. In that case, find a couple of words within the text to challenge yourself.

Let me give you an example:

The first word is ambiguity. As the alphabet is guiding this process, the daily words follow the letters of the alphabet.

am big uity.

Meaning: not exact; open for more than one interpretation.

There are daily tips for spelling, for using the words and how to spell the word in small groups, forward, backwards and forwards. ‘g’ and ‘u’ are in red, as they are emphasised.

You will find the word ambiguous there as well and now the ‘big’ is pronounced more strongly.

We need to see, read, write, use the words of the day as much as possible. I’ve read somewhere that we need to confront a word eight times to spell it unconsciously.

Some words don’t need the meaning (like: beauty, beautiful), but I have found that words with several vowels are especially hard to spell for dyslexic individuals. Knowing which vowels or in which order is a constant guessing for them.

Therefore it makes sense to break up the word, like be au ty.

Why not try it yourself and let me know how you go.

Join the One Year School IG challenge. It’s free, it’s fun and it works.

Here’s the link again:

I’m looking forward to getting to know you and respond to your comments there.

The same posts will also be on Facebook’s The One Year School.