'Retarded' view of learning difficulties

10th July 1998 at 01:00
CHRIS WOODHEAD, the chief inspector, quotes with approval (TES, June 5) a statement from a recently-published book: "Everyone can learn to read unless they are mentally retarded."

We raised an eyebrow at the American terminology. However, more importantly, we wondered what educational future such a view should lead us to expect for the client group we represent - those with specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia and speech and language impairments.

Recent research claims to have identified particular genes responsible for dyslexia and some speech and language difficulties. Whatever the cause, however, it is not "mental retardation" and certainly not bad teaching.

Norma Corkish Chief executive AFASIC (Unlocking speech and language) Joanne Rule Chief Executive British Dyslexia Association

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