How to Be a Supportive Friend to Someone With Dyslexia

Dyslexia is a learning disability that affects many people we know and love.

The disorder involves difficulties in learning to read or interpreting words, letters, and other symbols. While dyslexia doesn't affect general intelligence, it can be incredibly frustrating and complicated for someone who has it.

Unfortunately, the neurobiological disorder doesn't have a cure—but you can certainly be a pillar of strength for your friend who's having trouble. Below are the best ways to be a supportive friend to someone with dyslexia.

girl biting pencil

(via Unsplash)

Put Yourself in Their Shoes

Before you give advice or try to help the situation, think about how you personally would feel if you are faced with the same set of challenges. This simple exercise will help you become the most understanding version of yourself. Try to imagine going about your normal day with your friend's same roadblocks. Ask yourself how you would like others to help you and show you kindness, and then do the same.

computers and people working

(via Unsplash)


Always Be Discreet

Keep discretion top of mind when trying to be supportive. Although it may seem natural to want to rip off a menu from your friend's hands to help them read from it, avoid those kinds of actions. Always take a step back feel out the situation. Some days we feel extra vulnerable, and although your friend may have expressed thanks in prior menu encounters (for example), it doesn't mean this day they will feel the same way. Always be respectful and look for subtle signs that they need help. Instead of taking the menu in your own hands, call out some of the items you know they would like in a very casual way. Something like, "Yum! They have french toast on here" would work, and it won't tip off anybody else at the table that your friend is having trouble reading.

girl with pen in hand

(via Unsplash)


Be Mindful of Boundaries

Don't be afraid to be upfront with your friend about boundaries. While some of us may think we're helping with our advice and actions, the person on the receiving end may feel embarrassed or babied. To avoid any miscommunication, be honest and open. Start the conversation by acknowledging that you know dyslexia can be stressful. Let them know that your intentions are always positive and that you'll always be there for them. Lastly, ask what some good boundaries are for them.

For example, are they OK with you helping them with homework after school? Or do they prefer to do that in private with their tutor? Do they appreciate you taking an interest in their learning disability or would they rather you two don't mention it in public? After you set those boundaries, make sure you stay within them to guarantee your friend feels supported in a way that works for them.


Now that you know how to support a friend's issue at school, click HERE to find out how to help yourself on campus when feeling stressed out.