It doesn't help that dyslexia (like ME) appears to be suffered disproportionately by middle class people.
In my 22 years teaching, I only ever came across dyslexia in middle class students who had demanding parents.
I think the main problem in dyslexia discourse, expecially in the UK, is the extreme focus on taxonomy to the detriment of generalised understanding. What I mean is this: British researchers and educationalists seem tied to the notion that there will be only a few, distinct types of dyslexia. They seem frustrated by the fact that these patterns are not emerging clearly enough and this frustration, perhaps, is why some people are proposing that the entire concept be given up as a bad job. Part of this is possibly to do with the term dyslexia itself (originally it was one of a series of related conditions such as dysgraphia and discalcula, but the word has become a more generalised catch-all). Dyslexia implies problems with reading and, as a result, UK dsylexia discourse focusses very much on reading and language problems specifically.
But there is an alternate model, a much more successful model, whichseems to be in wide use in Canada. This defines dyslexia (the localterm is 'learning disability') 'specific, narrow, congnitive deficits'.
An explanation: if you give most people a battery of psychometrictests, they'll usually score pretty much the same in any givencognative skill. Some people will be good at test A and not so good attest C, but the difference won't be all that significant in comparisonto the differences between people. People who are smart tend to besmart accross the board, people who are dumb tend to score low in everytask. However, there is a subset of the population, the dyslexics, whoscore much lower in certain, specific, tasks than they do in most ofthe tests you give them. So a dyslexic might be in and around the 70thpercentile for most of their scores but on one or two tasks they arearound the 10th.
What are the advantages of this model?
1) it is rigerously defined and undeniably present in the population. Using such a test, dyslexics are relatively easy to spot and relativelyeasy to distinguish from people who are developmentally disabled. Furthermore, this cuts out many of the problems with over-diagnosisnoted in this thread.
2) it is data driven. Rather than coming up with this theory thatthere's something called a 'functional-proces dyslexic' and going outand trying to find people who fit your hokey model and gettingfrustrated when it doesn't appear, you can actually measure people'scognative abilty and try and spot patterns in the real world as theyreally exist. This is the right way round to do the taxonomy.
3) it gets rid of the language bias. Using this model, we readily observe that people who have trouble with language specific tasks are actually a subset of a much wider group who have trouble with tasks of all different kinds. There may be interventions that help both people who have trouble spelling and people who have trouble solving mazes or recognising sequences.
4) it recognises the real-world implications of dissability. Somebodywho is good at everything but only average at certain specific tasks isalso dyslexic and is probably being held back by that dyslexia relative to what they could acheive and contribute to society, even if theyaren't actually severely functionaly disabled in any area. Dyslexia interventions may help these people too.
5) it seems to have positive social implications. In my experience, dyslexia interventions are much better developed in Canada than in theUK. Because the debate is about what interventions work best, rather than what the diagnosis process should be looking for, intelectual energy has been freed up for helping people.
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