Millions of kids have recently started going to school worldwide, about 10% of them suffering from dyslexia.
As the year unfolds, some parents of first and second graders will see for the first time the written text that their son or daughter has just written, and will ask themselves “ What is this? What gibberish has my son or daughter produced?”
For some of these parents this will be the first indication of their child’s writing disability, and their initiation as dyslexic parents…
As a lifelong dyslexic and a dyslexia advocate, I would like to provide these parents my non-scientific definition of “dyslexia spelling” – spelling produced by dyslexics…
Dyslexia Spelling = Phonetic Spelling + Creative Spelling
What is Phonetic Spelling?
When you’re dictating a word and tell your son or daughter that he should write what he hears, a child, including a dyslexic, will attempt to map the sounds in the words to the sounds of the letters.
However, English is not a phonetic language. There are a very large number of English words where there is a gap between how the word sounds and how the word is actually spelled. Not to mention, there are many times multiple correct phonetic options to a sound (for example: k , c, ck, and qu all sound about the same)…
What is Creative Spelling?
Given that English spelling is not phonetic, and per each sound may have several spelling options, a lot of correct English spelling is dependent on the visual memory of a written word. If you have good visual memory of words, you will be able to spell a word correctly simply by writing it down, and from memory deciding if this is the correct spelling.
But people with dyslexia, have very poor and consistent visual memory of spelled words, and therefore can hardly rely on their visual memory of words. (see my example of how I spell the word “unfortunately” in a previous Ghotit Post – My Dyslexia and Phonological Processing.)
Not to mention that dyslexics sometimes simply confuse the direction of letters, and though they meant to write the letter “b” actually end up writing the letter “d”…
I term all the above spelling challenges as “creative spelling”. It is “creative” in the sense, that given that a person simply has no idea of how to spell correctly certain syllables of a word, he creatively makes them up as he writes. And each time he “creates” a word’s spelling, it usually ends up as a different spelling creation.
Can a regular spell checker correct dyslexia spelling?
If English was a phonetic language, then regular spell checkers who have implemented phonetic spelling rules would probably provide some value for dyslexics with poor visual spelling memory…
However, English is not a phonetic language, and therefore the “creative spelling” of a person with dyslexia must be taken into account in a spell checker. However the “creative” spelling of a dyslexic is basically “noise” and therefore any computerized program, such as a regular spell checker, that tries to correct a single word at a time (and not based on the context of the sentence) is doomed to fail… That is why Microsoft spell checker many times simply fails to correct a heavily misspelled word written by a dyslexic.
Context-based spell-checkers for dyslexia spelling
Here is where benefits of a context spell checker such as Ghotit’s Contextual Spell Checker come to play. Context-based spell checkers not analyze directly the “creative spelling” of each word written by a dyslexic, but rather based on the context of what was written, intelligently offers corrections, predicting what was actually intended to be written.