Butterscotch Thins and Dyslexia: A captured teachable moment…

As a parent I am a firm believer every child should have the opportunity to emphasize their strengths, which in turn, will ensure successful experiences. Dyslexia, for the most part, gives the polar opposite of positive experiences. Typically every school day is fraught with a child hiding their struggle. They try their very hardest, only to constantly miss the mark. At the very least, a child with dyslexia comes home from school simply exhausted. If not nurtured, failure can become their common place. This brings me back full circle to our family’s journey with Girl Scouts®. 

This year my daughter bridged to cadets. With each new level of Girl Scouts®, the task of earning badges becomes more involved. In a partial effort to earn her cooking badge, she was assigned the task to bake 3 dozen cookies and provide a copy of the recipe for all the girls in the troop. Cooking is common place in our home, so my thought was…we've got this! Well, maybe not so much…this is where a simple task and dyslexia collided.

We pulled out our family favorite cookie recipe, Butterscotch Thins, gathered all the ingredients, and were ready. The basic task of determining the measurement of an ingredient via the instructions, then double checking the measurement again from the list was excruciating to watch. This usual cooking step required some significant brain power. She had to look back and forth from the list of ingredients to the instructions, figure out what words the group of letters made, remember those words to make sure they matched the same words in the instructions. That was just the reading part. She also struggled with the mixed fractions. If the recipe asked for 1 2/3 cup she had to decide what measuring cups would be best to use.

As a therapist, I watched her try to simultaneously execute visual tracking, immediate and short-term memory, decoding and encoding and reading comprehension. Whew! No wonder she is exhausted after school. Watching her do this for 20 minutes wore me out. As her mom, I realized just trying to understand the recipe was enough for her. After talking with her, we decided I would type up the recipe for her project. Typically, she would use her voice recognition software to write up the recipe. I did not want her to merely copy the recipe we followed. I wanted to adapt it to her learning style. With dyslexia touching 1:5, my bet was this may benefit others as well. 

I took to my smart phone for some photos and jumped on the computer. We discussed what parts of the recipe were the most difficult to follow. For my daughter, it was the toggle between the ingredient list and instructions. Removing the toggle demand was the task at hand. The recipe was re-written in step by step format. The ingredients and amounts needed were written in order of the step they were to be used. Also, color contrast, bold and italic fonts were utilized to assist keeping her on the correct step. Photos of the process were inserted at important steps to provide a visual aide. After it was completed, I looked at it and thoughthmmm why aren’t all recipes written in this format? It is so much easier to follow and understand. The experience of making the cookies was a fun way for a dyslexic to now enjoy cooking. The point of the project was not for it to be a hardship. With her obstacle removed, I look forward to our next cooking adventure with great excitement. 

Those with dyslexia have the same capability to learn at the same rate as their non-dyslexic peers when instruction is provided in a manner that matches their specific learning style. Matching is the key! If a child is not learning, then maybe we should change how we teach. It can unlock so much potential. The cookies were delicious! We would like to share them with you as well. Enjoy!


Nestle Toll House® Recipe:  Butterscotch Thins


2 2/3 C all-purpose flour

1 ½ tsp baking soda

11 oz. package of Nestle Tollhouse® Butterscotch flavored morsels

2 sticks or 1# of butter

2 beaten eggs

1 1/3 C of packed brown sugar

1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract

Ingredients & Instructions

Combine –

2 2/3 C all-purpose flour

1 ½ tsp. baking soda

Microwave-  for 1 minute until smooth (you may need to stir a bit)–

11 oz. package of Nestle Tollhouse® Butterscotch flavored morsels

2 sticks = 1 cup of butter

Add – Beat In

2 beaten eggs

1 1/3 C packed brown sugar

1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract

Gradually add flour mixture to the butterscotch mixture until blended smooth.

Cover and refrigerate for 1 hr. or until firm.

Shape into two (about 1.25# each) 14 x 1 ½ inch logs; wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for 2hrs until firm.


Pre-heat oven:  375 degrees

Unwrap logs:  slice into ¼ inches; place on cookie sheet.


BAKE: 5-6 min; cool on baking sheet for 2 min then transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.


I hope you will leave a comment below if you decide to try my recipe.

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