Thursday, March 17, 2011

Dyslexia - definition

Many months ago I received an e-mail from someone who chanced upon my blog. This is what she had written.
“I work with kids, mostly under the age of ten, who are struggling in school.  I have found your posts informative.

On the phrase "learning disability" (LD) -- it means two entirely different things in the UK and in the US/Canada.

In the UK, LD refers to people who have significant cognitive or intellectual impairments -- what previously might have been termed "mentally retarded" (now pejorative in the US).

In the US/Canada, LD refers to people who have at least normal cognitive or intellectual abilities who struggle with one or more areas of learning (reading, writing, math)”. 

End of message.

This is rather interesting. This is probably why the people I wrote to in England find it difficult to accept my findings despite the numerous research reports in my blog.

All the students whom I have taught are students with normal cognitive or intellectual intelligence. All of them had a problem in reading English whilst they read fluently in Malay and and some in Han Yu Pin Yin (Romanized Mandarin).
Most of my students were certified dyslexic by experts in West Malaysia or Singapore even though they could read fluently in Malay. (One of the ‘revered  professors’, Linda Siegel wrote to me and said “The claim that Luqman Michel makes is that “dyslexics” can read fluently in Malay.  If they can read fluently, then they are not dyslexics.”  She is one of those who speak based on what others have written before her. She has no regard for researchers who have written about dyslexics who read fluently in other languages. She is exactly like what the Indian proverb say about one who has caught a three legged rabbit and claim all rabbits are three legged. The good thing about Linda is that, at least,  she like Dr.Joseph Torgesen replied my e-mail unlike all the other professors I had written to.)

I believe that people with significant cognitive or intellectual impairment should not be placed in the same category as dyslexics. Dyslexics are average or above average intelligent people. They learn in a different way and are very logical thinking people. They have no problem learning anything that is logical. They however, have problems accepting things that are illogical and their minds literally shut down when asked to learn illogical things. Once they understand the concept they learn at a fast rate.

Perhaps a clearer definition of dyslexics should be looked into. It would be a travesty to include those with intellectual impairment in the same class as the geniuses that we know.

Together with you, I would like to explore why children, dyslexic or otherwise, shut down. Do give me your views and any article you may have come across which could help us in this journey.


Brenda Simnard said...

This is not a disease and you can't catch it. This is a learning disability which can make reading and writing more difficult, and sometimes people get it in maths too. But it doesn't mean they aren't intelligent, I have Dyslexic friends who got A*s in a lot of their exams.

Luqman Michel said...

Hi Brenda, Thank you for your comment. I completely agree with you.
Many of the rich and famous are dyslexics.There is no question on their intelligence.