Dyslexia - The Elephant in the Room
Dec 14, 2013 Other 2868 Views
Medical science has confirmed that there are over ten million dyslexic children in our school systems and I believe it is important to understand what that means to those children, our society in general, the educational system, and those of us who are not dyslexic.
Before we can answer that question, it is important to understand what dyslexia is. Most sources characterize dyslexia as a "learning disability," meaning that a dyslexic individual's ability to learn how to read is somehow disabled. In reality this is just not the case. Dyslexics learn how to read every day; they just cannot learn to read in a system that makes incorrect assumptions about them. So then is it the child who is disabled, or is it the system?
In a medical sense dyslexia is a neuro-psychological condition in which an individual uses a different part of the brain to process information. This dyslexic profile carries with it some weaknesses in prerequisite skills that are needed before someone can learn to process information efficiently. These weaknesses may manifest themselves in phonics, memory, visual perception, motor integration, and other areas.
So you see it is not that dyslexics cannot learn to read that is the issue. It is the failure of the system to give dyslexics the prerequisite skills needed before they can learn to read that is the overriding problem.
To make matters worse our schools take the approach that all children have the prerequisite skill they need to read at birth. That's right. Our schools presume that all children possess the same cognitive skills and then build their systems accordingly. Wow! Everyone is identical! What an assumption! When was the last time you heard of a school providing cognitive training or educational therapy to prepare someone to learn how to read? You may think that is what is taking place in kindergarten, but that is not the case.
Undoubtedly some of you are now getting hot under the collar either because you or your child has fallen victim to this process, or perhaps your career is in education and you disagree with everything I have said. In either case there is nothing to be gained by anger, and there is no escaping the fact that according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), one in seven adults in the United States cannot read more than a children's book. This hardly indicates an educational system that is working well for the population that it is supposed to serve.
Before I alienate all the teachers who may read this, our teachers are in fact working very hard to maintain the literacy levels we have today. It is the political and educational systems that are not providing these teachers with the tools required to serve all their students well - especially the dyslexic students.
Regardless of where you stand on education and how you view the system, there is no question that education and literacy impact us all. According to the National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS), quality of life, national competitiveness, crime, business productivity, and general health are impacted by low literacy levels.
Now all of this is good to know, but it begs the bigger questions that you hear in the media and across kitchen tables all the time, specifically:
• How did we get in this mess?
• How do we get out of this mess?