The Decade of Dyslexia

July 21, 2016

Every decade has a new emphasis.  In the mid 1970’s “learning disability” was a scalding hot term.  Following the 1970s, ADHD was the topic of the decade.  This was followed by autism (or children “on the spectrum”).

We are now in the decade of “dyslexia.”  Not very long ago the term “dyslexia” in the schools was sort like Voldemort (“He who shall remain nameless.”).  Now, it is my impression that we are using the term “dyslexia” very freely, perhaps too freely.   I can’t prove it, but there seems to be a meteoric rise of people who think their child has dyslexia.

Increased awareness may not have changed peoples’ perceptions all that much.

Try this experiment this weekend at your backyard family gatherings.  Ask your relatives what they know about dyslexia.    Without exception, I would predict that you will get something like, “Isn’t that when you read upside down and backward…or you reverse all those letters.”

If you are in the minority who of those who do not view dyslexia through the reversals explanation, you may be tempted to say, “No, it is not that at all,” but your explanations will not be understood.

It’s one of the problems with the ‘D Word.”  As much as our awareness of dyslexia has increased considerably with all of the grass-roots movements and legislation taking place, it is extremely difficult to shake the notion of reversals and upside down from people’s awareness.

There are numerous other interfering mythologies that do not easily go away, chief among them the notion that, “Only neurologists can diagnose dyslexia.’

I try to do the best I can to educate people and help shake out certain notions long held.

No matter what, though, it’s very hard to shake the perception at the heart of people’s thinking regarding reversals and the upside down view of things.  This perceptions continually gets in the way.

I know it goes against the popular tide, but I prefer to say a child has a “reading disability,” (recognizing that this terms is problematic, too, since it doesn’t mention the spelling and writing issues).

To me reading disability translates better to most parents.  The term is understood pretty intuitively. There is less preconceived mythology and baggage.

Takeaway Point

Keep chiseling away at the mythologies.

Enjoy your backyard barbecues.  Keep working on the relatives.  Maybe they will get it one of these days.

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Direct Instruction?A Little Dose of Patience (“Vitamin P”)
All comments (2)
  • Robbi Cooper
    July 22, 2016 at 2:57 pm

    Wow, what a unique perspective. If you asked your backyard BBQ friends what prostate cancer is would they be able to give you the diagnostic […] Read MoreWow, what a unique perspective. If you asked your backyard BBQ friends what prostate cancer is would they be able to give you the diagnostic definition? Most likely not unless you are chumming around with a bunch of Oncologists. But the specific terms denoting cancers various forms are vital to obtain needed specific cancer treatments. The Backyard team does not have to have an in-depth knowledge of Dyslexia, though that would be nice. School personal and colleges that train teachers must! The body of scientific knowledge on Dyslexia is vast highlights early screeners and specific interventions that give a dyslexic learner the optimal chance for best outcomes. To call it a reading disability is like calling strep (treatable) with a sore throat...which depending on how treated could cause lifelong harm. When we have more specific targeted terms like dyslexia, (even if it does not pass the BBQ test), and not using them is delaying targeted services kids need ASAP. As a member of Decoding Dyslexia I would encourage you to use terms that are specific. I would hate to go to the hospital with a treatable cancer and them take the stance that since their hamburger flipping pals don't understand specific types...we don't identify what type of cancer...we treat them all the same. Doctors and teachers should know better...and many have taken the time to do so. Read Less

    Reply
    • Richard Selznick, Ph.D.
      @Robbi Cooper
      July 25, 2016 at 3:42 pm

      Thanks for the view. You make good points. My bigger issue is that the preconceived notions of dyslexia interfere with understanding in my […] Read MoreThanks for the view. You make good points. My bigger issue is that the preconceived notions of dyslexia interfere with understanding in my experience. I have found it remarkable how many people (from more casual circumstances to professionals) have opinions about dyslexia that are not in line with the reality. I am not sure if you read my book on Dyslexia Screening. I think it is very in line with what you are saying in terms of labeling dyslexia. My point in this post is mostly pointing out the hurdles in the understanding that become somewhat problematic, in my opinion. Thanks, again, for the input. Much appreciated. Read Less

      Reply

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