The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity is a great resource for all things relating to dyslexia. Since school will be starting in most of the USA pretty soon, it’s fitting this link be shared around.
Today, I came across their Dyslexia Bill of Rights again.
It’s a very useful guide to your, and/or your child’s, rights as a dyslexic student, but number two really got me.
“Use the Word Dyslexia”
Had I not seen first hand accounts from parents stating they weren’t even allowed to use the word “dyslexia” in their meetings, I wouldn’t understand why this point is in there. Unfortunately, that does happen, and the word should be used. It’s not something to be afraid of.
There are plenty of reasons given why certain parties don’t want to use “dyslexia”, opting instead for “specific learning disability”.
The most common, and the one that makes the least sense, seems to be a fear of sticking the stigma of dyslexia on the student. Yes, stigmas are extremely hard to deal with, especially when you have to face them in charged environments. The thing is, would carrying the label of “specific learning disability” be any better? How would you even begin to describe it? Wouldn’t having a vague classification be even worse?
I can see how that could be used as more fodder to justify calling a student lazy, stupid or attention seeking.
Specific learning disability encompasses a huge number of learning differences. Dyslexia may be the most common, but it is only one type under the umbrella. It makes me wonder if the words “dyspraxia”, “dyscalclulia” and “dysgraphia” are also banned from the meetings “dyslexia” is.
As the article I’d linked above says, actually using the word dyslexia can clear up a lot of communication barriers, because it requires specific accommodations.
I like to use the diagnosis of asthma as a way to show how potentially harmful it is to stick with vague terms in these meetings. If you go to a doctor for asthma treatment, and they insist on referring to it only as a “lung disease”, as that’s the classification it falls under, you may get the medication you need from them at that single appointment.
However, if they only record you suffer from a lung disease characterized by shortness of breath and wheezing, the chances of the next doctor or nurse you see having a clear understanding of your needs reduces greatly. In their eyes, you could have chronic bronchitis, COPD, or any of a huge list of lung diseases. You’ll need to go through your symptoms again, talk about triggers, medication and everything else you’re told about when diagnosed with asthma.
I know that will never happen, as anyone who’s witnessed an asthma attack can see and hear the effects of the disease. It’s been cemented in the medical establishment more than long enough to have a permanent place there.
Dyslexia, however, is still highly debated, for some reason. This is despite the brain imagery done, the evidence based accommodations succeeding at a high rate and the fact it’s been in recorded history for centuries now. It’s ridiculous that there are still educational professionals who “don’t believe in it”.
It’s not a mythological creature. It’s a real form of learning difference, and those with it are protected under federal law.
That turned into a rant. I guess it’s a hot button topic for me.
I suggest checking out The Dyslexia Bill of Rights, though, especially if you have a little one going back to school or if you’re returning to school yourself. The best way to get needed accommodation is through educating yourself first.