No simple problem

23rd September 2005 at 01:00
Professor Julian Elliott is helping raise awareness of the dyslexia debate among the general public, but I question his viewpoint and his method.

What matters is that a condition exists, whether or not we call it dyslexia, which is different to "simply" a difficulty in learning to read.

People with dyslexia also have problems which include short-term memory, sequencing, direction, organisation, time management and information processing. Interventions to teach these people to read would not alleviate the other difficulties. Yet dyslexia has nothing to do with intelligence.

In 1999, Professor Gustafson and Professor Samuelsson in Sweden described dyslexia as a "fuzzy" concept, and this is part of the problem - different people present different symptoms in different degrees on different days.

No wonder the concept is difficult to grasp.

I have just completed research for my MEd in educational psychology on dyslexia and offending. There is no doubt that dyslexia has affected the home lives, education, working lives and prison lives of the participants, not just in reading. Yet children in England and Wales are being increasingly taught in mainstream schools by mainstream teachers who do not have and have not been given the skills necessary to help these children to overcome their difficulty and reach their potential.

Maybe the academics should get their noses out of their journals and refocus their knowledge and energy on helping those with dyslexia to manage their symptoms. What really matters is the people affected.

Tina Newsome Key stage 4 co-ordinator for MFL Mirfield free grammar and sixth-form West Yorkshire

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