Dyslexic students “have a harder time surviving” online learning during pandemic

Academics Amid the Pandemic

OREM, Utah (ABC 4 News) – Students with dyslexia — who, by some estimates comprise 20 percent of the population — are struggling with online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m slower than everyone else,” said Jake Olson, who has dyslexia. 

But Olson has worked harder than nearly everyone else, showing up during high school an hour before school and staying an hour after. That hard work, he says, helped him pass his classes — and it had a lot to do with person-to-person interaction with teachers.

“Because I had the system where I could talk to them and I was getting accommodations and things. And when I went online, I actually started failing most of my classes,” said Olson.

University of Utah professor Dr. Barbara Wirostko (Morelli) says students with dyslexia will have a harder time surviving this pandemic than their peers. She is an expert on dyslexia.

“Spelling challenges, grammar challenges, reading comprehension,” said Wirostko.

She says those students need more accommodations, and benefit from more time on tests — even having those tests read to them. Her concern is that more isn’t being done to cater to students who are often burned out just trying to keep up.

“These kids have a much higher likelihood of anxiety, of depression — drug use, alcohol use,” said Wirostko.

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Olson, who is now a freshman at UVU, says many of his in-person classes seems to be shifting online. He knows he will have to work harder than ever to keep up.

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Nick McGurk
Nick McGurk is an Emmy Award winning journalist and a Utah native — and he couldn’t be happier to be covering news, and raising a family, in his home state.

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