Although 1 in 5 children is dyslexic, less than 30% of these children are ever identified. Why is this? In fact, most schools won’t even use the word dyslexia. There is a philosophy in education today that society shouldn’t “label” these children dyslexic. This philosophy not only discourages children from being “labeled” dyslexic but it also discourages schools from identifying children with learning disabilities. Society sees “labeling” as a bad practice. I disagree with this philosophy. I believe it does a disservice to the dyslexic child and to their families. Today, a dyslexic student is only identified as having a learning disability after the child has fallen significantly behind their peers. Schools are then able to “label” the child as having a Specific Learning Disability. The label Specific Learning Disability includes many different types of disabilities, including brain injury. Dyslexia accounts for 80% of those identified as having a Specific Learning Disability. Dyslexia requires a specific type of intervention so that the student is able to actually close the gap. Without the label of “dyslexia,” most students only receive interventions that are appropriate for a group of disabilities, but never receive interventions that are specific for dyslexia. To me, that’s like identifying a group of people as having cancer and assuming that the same type of treatment will work for each individual regardless of the type of cancer.
If dyslexic students aren’t identified as “dyslexic”, they are often informally identified by their teachers as being lazy or slow. The other kids in the classroom are also labeling these kids as “dumb”. These kids are often picked on and bullied. Everyone seems to have a label for them whether or not the school formally “labels” them. I can remember teachers telling me that I wasn’t trying hard enough. My second grade teacher told my mom that I was capable of reading but I just didn’t want to do it. She would send home papers that I had trouble reading and wrote in big red letters, “Joshua refused to do this.”
I think having a “label” of dyslexia will help students get the right help and provide them with the appropriate accommodations for their weaknesses. It also helps families to have a term to research to better understand the learning difficulties. I knew I learned differently and was frustrated because I couldn’t learn the same way as my peers. The word “dyslexia” gave me confidence that I could achieve success.