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