Thursday, 25 October 2012

‘The dyslexia epidemic’

The dyslexia epidemic’

When I was a teacher, the county I worked in did not allow a child to be described as ‘dyslexic’. I was never sure why, but the suspicion was that it was about the costs that might be involved in support.
Nowadays nearly everyone I meet has their own dyslexia story. A friend, a relative, themselves; it sometimes seems like the typical urban myth.   Why has it become so ‘normal’?

I think that it is to do with the education system in a different way to it being a criticism of the system.  Every English speaking country seems to be a victim the epidemic.  In other countries, with different languages the epidemic is not a severe but still ‘spreading’ and causing increasing concern.

Here in the UK, whatever your individual concerns, every child has the opportunity to learn, children from all backgrounds can move through the system and get to the top academically.  There are differences between schools, and I will not consider them here. In nearly every family there are individuals who, despite having every opportunity, still struggle with reading, writing and often ease of distraction in subjects that require reading and writing.  Others in the same family, who have had virtually the same experiences and opportunities, blossom academically in contrast with those in the family who appear to ‘fail’.

If this was about sport, not reading, none of this would surprise us. We would not be looking for explanation. We might try exhortation, but it would rarely have any effect, and anyway  lack of sporting success at school does not negatively affect the rest of your life  in the way that poor reading and academic performance can.
What has changed in society, is that now more than ever before people need to be able to read and write fluently to be successful.  The employment opportunities, the life chances for those who are slower readers, less fluent readers, are disappearing fast. 

Society is now a less friendly place to those who find it hard to succeed. In a family the slower, less fluent readers now have fewer opportunities and cause more concern. The families look for explanations and ways forward and get a label, which is just that, a label.  Dyslexia is not just about reading, but for most the reading factor is the most debilitating.

What we need to do is to really start to understand why some find reading easier than others.  We need to then act on what we discover.  

  • ·         How many of these slower readers actually simply need good glasses?
  • ·         How many cannot cope with the font size that ‘academically successful leaders’ think is normal?
  • ·         How many find white paper and computer screens difficult?

If your car is having problems, you check the simple stuff first.  Check the electrical system and the fuel system. In most cases the result is a better performance from your car.
It can save a fortune in spurious diagnosis and garage costs.  Reading and writing?

1 comment:

  1. I have a friend that is South Korean. In Korea there is no concept or word for dyslexia.