Monday, March 8, 2010

Dyslexia Myth

Dyslexia Myth:
I have been surfing the net for definitions and the following is what I have unearthed.
I have copied the following from Dyslexics.org.uk

Myth: Dyslexics form a special and identifiable (diagnosable) category of poor readers.

Facts: There is no scientifically valid way of differentiating 'dyslexics' from other poor readers. What was for a great length of time the most used definition of dyslexia (the 'IQ discrepancy' definition where reading age was considerably lower than IQ would predict) was discredited a long time ago. 'It is perhaps strange that this notion of a discrepancy definition survived as long as it did' (Miles p114) NO operational definition or scientifically acceptable way of sorting 'dyslexics' out from a group of poor readers has appeared to take its place. As there is, at the present time, no infallible way of separating the 'dyslexics' out as a special group, either ALL poor readers are 'dyslexic', or none are -see What is dyslexia?

Myth: This is the BIG one; dyslexia is a specific brain weakness; a genetically-based, neurological difficulty with phoneme awareness and processing skills (the ability to detect and process the smallest perceptible speech sounds).

Facts: Phoneme awareness is un-natural; it is only necessary when learning to read and spell involves using a phonetic alphabet and has to be taught. This is confirmed by the research which found that people who read and write using non-phonetic writing systems lack phoneme awareness (Kerr p103-4); studies 'show the strong impact of the type of writing system and type of instruction on the development of phonemic awareness -an environmental effect, and restates the point that you do not acquire this aptitude unless you need it' (D.McGuinness WCCR p135) As a consequence of normal genetic variation, not a brain defect, some children fall low on the bell curve of ability for learning to consciously hear and work at the level of the phoneme. The opaque English alphabet code exacerbates that lack of talent, as does whole language / mixed methods teaching. Fortunately, modern synthetic phonics programmes have been specially designed to render the English alphabet code transparent for initial teaching.

Myth: Children who fail to discover how to read from embedded phonics instruction by the age of 7-8 yrs., and remain phonologically unaware, are likely to have a specific learning difficulty, dyslexia. Those who continue to struggle despite receiving conventional remediation (described as 'treatment non-responders') have the most severe form of the condition.

Facts: Unless the child is profoundly deaf, mute, or grossly mentally disabled the most likely reason why they can't read is 'ABT (ain't being taught!) (Miskin) or dysdidaxia (a problem with the teaching) (Macmillan p134). 'We know that the intellectual crippling of children is caused overwhelmingly by faulty instruction -not by faulty children' (Engelmann&Carnine 1982.Theory of instruction). '(F)ailure to read is often to do with the nature of the teaching rather than the nature of the child' (Rose 2009 p60) 'The reason that so many children fail to read and write is because the wrong teaching methods are used. The education establishment, rather than admit that their eclectic and incomplete methods for instruction are at fault, have invented a brain disorder called dyslexia' (Stringer). They need to be taught the Alphabet Code and the skills of segmenting and blending, FAST.
There is more to read from this organisation here:

Now let us contrast the above definition with definitions of other dyslexic organisations:
The British Dyslexia Organisation –

Definition: Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty which mainly affects the development of literacy and language related skills.
You may read more here:

Canadian Dyslexia association:
It is a difficulty with the alphabet, reading, writing and spelling in spite of normal or above-normal intelligence, conventional teaching methods, and adequate sociocultural opportunity. Dyslexia is thought to be genetic and hereditary.

You may read more here:

The question is : Why is there such a disparity between the definitions of Dyslexia associations in UK itself ?

I believe that some of these definitions are more than one hundred years old. In one of my blogs I have linked many research reports from various countries. Research reports that date back to more than 10 years which support my findings.

Yet, why does the definition that dyslexia is a learning disability still keep surfacing.
I hope readers of my articles will comment. Give your views.

Click here for lesson 3.

7 comments:

Heidi said...

I believe dyslexia is a learning style that is identifiable. These kids tend to be the people, who despite teaching methods that others students learn from, they do not master the same material. My son, was a terrible speller, missed the small words when reading, didn't recognize site words,but could guess the large words because of placement cues, couldn't sequence or tell time, and was poor at rote memorization. Dyslexics definetly have phonoeme awareness problems, sequencing problems and working memory problems. That being said, they CAN learn all the same material as others, they do just need different teaching methods. My son is becoming a great reader, speller and printer with the Wilson Reading system (2 hours of intense tutoring per week). It has helped him tremendously. He was not able to excel without it. I think the education system has to learn how to spot these children, and give them the appropriate learning system. In the US, any 1st grade teacher should be able to spot them... can't hear the middle vowel sounds in words, can't identify the vowel sounds very well, mix up b, p and d more than there colleagues, and have poor handwriting that takes them an extra-ordinary amount of time to produce. I think these symptoms are very identifiable. In the US, dsylexics are all being identified as ADD or ADHD because they get squirmy in school and can't pay attention. This is because their brain is in overdrive trying to read. They definetly use different parts of their brain to read. Schools need to look beyond the behavior, and also look at the learning pattern. Is the child inattentive and also has specific reading, writing and spelling deficits? Doctors don't look at this. They just look at the behavior. So, all kids who can't pay attention in US schools are labeled ADD/ADHD and advised to take a high powered, addictive drug. Dyslexia is real and identifiable. It has specific traits. It can be minimized with excellent teaching methods, and also eliminated in many ways with the correct teaching methods.

Michel, your writings are excellent and on target. You have identified many of the dyslexics problems (sequencing, hearing the vowel sounds, etc.) You're writings are great. But I do believe dyslexia exists and not all kids have it. My daughter is four, and already can identify and write the entire alphabet. She learned most of her letters watching TV. My son did not have hear learning style. I do not think she will suffer from the same things my son did in school.

Heidi said...

Some research points that dyslexia can be caused by visual problems, auditory processing problems or attention problems. Either way, I think it is very identifiable. Some people believe it is a visual spatial form of learning. No matter what causes it, I believe that it can be identified, and the student can learn just as well as anyone else, if the right methods are used. I do think these kids have gifts in other areas...such as creativity, building things, drawing, art, making up stories, etc. I am fascinated by many of their innate skills.

Luqman Michel said...

Thank you Heidi,
I completely agree with your findings.
I am sorry if I had given you the wrong impression. I know that dyslexia exists and I agree with you. But it is not a disease like many would like us to believe.I believe dyslexics just have a different learning preference and, like you said, if taught in a manner appropriate to them they will learn just as fast as other children.
Yes again, Dyslexic children can be easily identified. However, how can they be identified if primary school teachers themselves have not heard the word 'Dyslexia"? I spoke with almost all the teachers of my children in primary school about 5 years ago and they all did not know what dyslexia is!!
I believe doctors should not be the ones to identify dyslexic children. It is my opinion that the people best suited for identifying are the teachers and parents.

As for gifts in other areas - I know for sure they have this gift. I also ended up teaching a few children who were not dyslexic and when it came to comprehension (specifically when I read out to them), the dyslexic children can easily score better then the others.

When it comes to figuring out the ending of stories they are spot on.

No need to talk about doing puzzles -they beat me each time. Every where I read about a dyslexics memory being bad but I did not see this in my students - their memory is better (much better) than mine when it came to playing a special card game to improve memory. I has to purposely lose the first few times until they got to understand the game.After that, try as I may, I could never beat them.
The game is a simple card game to improve memory (That is what the scientists say). You place all 52 cards face down. With the toss of a coin the first player opens two cards. If the card are the same he keeps it and has another go.If the two cards do not match he puts them back in the same place and the second player goes. Try this with a dyslexic child and see what happens after, say, the 5th round!!

Luqman Michel said...

Heidi, it is comments like yours that make what I am doing all worth while. I spend a lot of time on this blog hoping it will benefit parents of dyslexic children and I look forward to comments like yours. Thanks again.
God Bless.

Heidi said...

Gosh, your beliefs about who should diagnose dyslexia are just like mine, exactly! It should be parents and teachers, and not doctors! And, in the US, none of the teaching programs teach what dyslexia is either. I know FOUR people who have received their Masters in Education (specializing in reading) who have graduated in the past 2 years and have not heard of dyslexia. I do not understand this at all. I even asked our superintendent of curriculum. He said it was taught in the 1960s, but it must not be taught now if I am getting blank stares and stammers from my acquaintences who have gotten their Masters in Education. I can not even begin to fathom why this is given all the research that is abundant.

It is even more interesting that people from half-way around the world can communicate about this learning style, see it, observe it, write about it, agree about it and teach to it, and yet the educational establishment is blind to see it.

Heidi Kroner

Heidi said...

Gosh, your beliefs about who should diagnose dyslexia are just like mine, exactly! It should be parents and teachers, and not doctors! And, in the US, none of the teaching programs teach what dyslexia is either. I know FOUR people who have received their Masters in Education (specializing in reading) who have graduated in the past 2 years and have not heard of dyslexia. I do not understand this at all. I even asked our superintendent of curriculum. He said it was taught in the 1960s, but it must not be taught now if I am getting blank stares and stammers from my acquaintences who have gotten their Masters in Education. I can not even begin to fathom why this is given all the research that is abundant.

It is even more interesting that people from half-way around the world can communicate about this learning style, see it, observe it, write about it, agree about it and teach to it, and yet the educational establishment is blind to see it.

Heidi Kroner

Luqman Michel said...

I hope you will agree with me when I say "Great minds think alike".Ha ha ha. It is sad that people with masters in education are not aware of dyslexia and in a country like USA- that is abhorring.

I hope to be able to get people in countries speaking only English to slowly accept what I am writing in my blog. It is not going to be easy but I believe it is already beginning to create some awareness.