Handwriting is a struggle for dyslexics—even jotting down a little note requires a lot of extra thought and attention. So computers are great. Everyone knows computers are great. They are a pretty obvious tool for anyone to use for writing. But here’s why they’re so great for helping a dyslexic person conquer the fear and hesitation that can accompany the task of writing.
Computers make a world of difference to a dyslexic person. Typing on a computer means I don’t have to struggle with trying to write legibly—the text is perfectly legible every time. Second, it helps with spelling, which gives me more confidence in having others see my work, although early versions of word processing software didn’t always get the spell check quite right. Third—and this is a biggie—I don’t have to worry about getting everything perfect the first time. With a word processor, I can easily go back and change things around as much as I need to until it makes sense and I am happy with it.
It took me a while to figure this out (more on this another time, but remember I was already a young adult by the time computers were available to the public). When writing on paper, you do need to get it right the first time (unless you have a 10lb eraser and all the time in the world to rewrite draft after draft over and over again). In my life, getting it right the first time is simply not a possibility for me. That’s the biggest advantage of using a computer. I don’t need to worry about spelling, punctuation and composition the first time through a draft. If I did that, I would probably spend all day on just the first sentence. Computers give me the freedom to concentrate on transferring my thoughts into writing and the luxury to go back later and fix things as needed. It was only once I realized that it’s okay to just let my thoughts flow and to keep typing, that writing with confidence became a real possibility for me.
The last important thing to know about writing, whether you’re dyslexic or not, is that there is no substitute for practice. For many years now, I have spent several hours writing every day (in one form or another) and although it’s still a lot of work, it is much easier than it used to be and I’m continuing to improve every day.
If you have a dyslexic child, encourage them to use the computer, to learn to type, and to see the advantages the computer provides in allowing them to express their thoughts in writing without having to be distracted by the need to get every single mechanical detail of writing (like letter formation and spelling) right the first time through.
And by all means, remember that whatever learning difficulty that you may be dealing with, you can still accomplish practically anything that you choose to do, if you’re willing to do the work that it takes to get there.