Blake Charlton, M.D. isn’t quite ready to accept the notion that dyslexia is “a normal variation of human intellect” rather than a disability:
Not a disability? My years of functional illiteracy suggest otherwise. Today’s educational environment exacerbates dyslexic weaknesses. Schools misidentify poor spelling and slow reading as a lack of intelligence; typically diagnose the condition only after students have fallen behind; and too often fail to provide dyslexic students with the audio and video materials that would help them learn. Until these disadvantages are removed, “disability” most accurately describes what young dyslexics confront.
Dr. Charlton’s concern applies to children with other specific learning disabilities as well as dyslexia, the most common one. Recent studies and experiences reveal many unique, important, and useful talents that lead people who learn differently to impressive academic, vocational, and social successes. Diagnosing a disability is not enough for children. Recognizing a person’s strengths, and not just their weaknesses, and then providing them with the tools to succeed is so important:
I believe that scientific evidence and social observation will continue to show that defining dyslexia based solely on its weaknesses is inaccurate and unjust, and places too grim a burden on young people receiving the diagnosis. A more precise definition of dyslexia would clearly identify the disabilities that go along with it, while recognizing the associated abilities as well. If the dyslexic community could popularize such a definition, then newly diagnosed dyslexics would realize that they, like everyone else, will face their futures with a range of strengths and weaknesses.
Read Blake Charlton’s New York Times article here.
More PediaBlog on learning disabilities here.