Dyslexia was barely spoken of some years ago and now it seems to be front and center on everyone’s mind.

I honestly don’t know how it happened, but parents are streaming in worrying and preoccupied with dyslexia.

Dyslexia has become mainstream.

At its core when a child has “dyslexia” it means that they have trouble with reading, spelling and writing- beyond what would be expected, given that the child shows at least average cognitive ability. (I understand that there is more to it, but this is the core.)

If I had my way, I would call it just that, a “reading, spelling and writing problem.” Or perhaps calling it a “big word problem.“ (How’s that for scientific.)”   I wouldn’t call it a disability.  I wouldn’t suggest that the child had a neurological dysfunction or disability.

But, I don’t have my way.

So, parents ask about dyslexia, when they used to come in asking about “ADD” or “ADHD.” (Which has been beyond mainstream for over two decades.)

Dyslexia has become the syndrome “du jour.”

Research and clinical experience informs us that approximately 20% of the population going in to first grade are predisposed not to learn how to read, spell or write very well.

That’s not a small number of kids.

These kids then carry their predisposition into the later grades, effectively limping along unless they have gotten significant intervention/remediation, which is rarely the case.

Are all of these kids “dyslexic?”   It’s not likely.

What matters more than the dyslexia question is what type of learning problem the child has.

Most of the kids have what I call Type I problems. That is, their basic decoding, reading fluency, spelling and writing skills are deficient.

With the second type, the Type II children, these kids read the words pretty well and they have adequate oral reading fluency, but show problems with their understanding.

These are very different types of kids requiring different types of treatments/intervention.

Answering what type of learning problem your child has is far more important than the “Is he/she dyslexic question.”

One last point. Schools are not easy to deal with around any of these issues.  In later blogs we will talk again about best strategies for approaching them so the odds are shifted better in your favor, but I can tell you with almost 100% certainty, that when you start talking to schools about the “D Word”  their eyes collectively start rolling inside their collective head.  They (the schools) then shut down and stop listening as shown by their standard response of…

“We’re not medical doctors – we don’t assess dyslexia.  You need to get a neurologist.”

Nothing, and I mean nothing gets my blood pressure rising more than that statement which I hear on a regular basis about the need to get a neurologist.

That is not putting the odds more in your favor.

It’s a tough chess game to play with the school, but there are ways of playing it better which we will be talking about in later blogs.

(***  Please note: Dr. Richard Selznick is a psychologist, clinician and author of four books.  His blog posts represent his opinions and perspective based on his years of interacting with struggling children, parents and schools.  The goal of the blogs and the website is to provide you with straight-forward, down-to-earth, no-nonsense advice to help cut through all of the confusion that exists in the field. He reminds readers that he is neither a scientist, nor a researcher.  His advice in the blogs and in practice is governed by one overriding principle that he asks himself – “If this were my child, what would I do?)

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