Is it Dyslexia?

I was talking with a fellow worker recently about Dyslexia and how she believed she and her child were Dyslexic. She had gone through a formal testing process for herself and it was determined she wasn’t Dyslexic. They had no explanation for many of her issues, but she was not Dyslexic.

As we continued to chat I was very interested in the many personal characteristics of Dyslexia she had when describing herself. She had difficulty remembering names but she could remember faces, places and events with great detail. She was frustrated when she had to learn something presented in a sequence or step by step instructions with no overview (big picture) and no clear explanation of what she was learning and what it meant. She found “just memorizing” was of no value and didn’t “stick”. She could understand complicated math concepts but often could not write out the steps even though she knew the answer. Simple arithmetic was sometimes difficult and hard to remember unless she could visualize it with pictures in her mind such as groups of things like animals. Being “on time” or understanding what being on time meant or why it was necessary had always been an issue for her. She transposed numbers in sequences such as phone numbers. She didn’t like lists but she liked to draw out a plan. She liked helping people and found she was very effective with problem solving and intuition. But she is not Dyslexic.

She also told us about her daughter and a recent school project she was doing about dogs. When she looked at her daughter’s work she noticed that she had started out with the word “dog” and then on following pages she was writing “god”. But I’m sure her daughter is not Dyslexic either.

The view of many professionals is that “Dyslexia” is a general term for learning disabilities. However we find that all the Dyslexic children and adults we assess or talk to have the same list of strengths and issues and only vary on degree, are wonderful problem solvers and tend to be exceptionally intelligent and creative in one or more areas. They don’t have many of the problems that other children with learning disabilities possess and are different learners and thinkers in some very clear ways from the general population. But when tested they don’t have Dyslexia!

Karey Hope
Founder of Dyslexia Victoria Online

2 thoughts on “Is it Dyslexia?

  1. i was just wondering what type of testing the girl you talk about had, as i know of cases where the testing is flawed by learning style. An example could be that the subject, being tested, is so good at reading body language and social cues that they are able to subconsciously find the normal “correct” response. i would assume this happens in the cognitive model, of brian activity, testing.

    So i guess my real question is did they test her using the Behavioural model as well?
    in addition depending on the location of the testing was the girl able to have medical model testing. ( i know that many countries don’t recognise clinical diagnosis)

    thank you for having this blog and making it engaging.

  2. Hi Elizabeth, Howie deGraaf here. I help Karey during the assessments we do and contribute to the blogs. Your comments are very interesting and valid. We are very aware of how the testing venue and the testing vehicle itself can affect the results of the testing. Often the parents tell us that their children were nervous, scared, anxious, or off balance by the clinical atmosphere of the testing. And yes, the majority of children and young adults we test, who we judge to be dyslexic, are extremely intuitive and can read body language as if they were mind readers. As you noted this will most very likely effect the results of the test.

    Many, many times we have read school and teacher reports along side the “Psycho-Educational” reports and we wonder if the two reports are actually about the same child.

    I don’t know if the testing was done using the Behavioral model or not. The purely clinical “Psycho-Ed” reports almost always use the following assessment tools: WESCHSLER INTELLEGENCE SCALE, BEERY-BUKTENICA DEVELOPMENTAL TEST OF VISUAL MOTOR INTEGRATION, PEABODY PICTURE VOCABULARY, THE WIDE RANGE ASSESSMENT OF MEMORY AND LEARNING, TEST OF AUDITORY ANALYSIS SKILLS. Karey is constantly amazed at how the testing today done in schools here in British Columbia, Canada is almost identical to the testing she had done on her children 25 years ago in Northern California. These tests are good at listing all the deficits but very light when it comes to making specific recommendations that will allow the teacher or the parents to implement some sort of teaching plan to help the student. We have actually heard those exact words from many of the teachers we speak to when we are presenting information at various Professional Development , Pro D day, events. The assessments are done by the schools and through their psychologist or clinician of choice and then the teachers end up without a usable set of recommendations they can create a teaching plan from.

    Sorry Elizabeth, looks like I’m going off on another rant here so time to get back on topic.

    You said in the final paragraph of your comment that many countries don’t recognise a clinical diagnosis. We totally agree and I think part of the problem is that there are so many factions that just don’t want Dyslexia to exist. At least not outside the general heading of “Learning Disabilities”. Also, so often a clinical diagnosis can be very inaccurate for many reasons such as the ones you listed. As you may have noted we feel Dyslexia isn’t a Learning Disability but rather simply a difference in learning.

    I certainly hope I was able to answer your comments and addressed your concerns. Please feel free to ask more questions and make more comments, that really is the only way we are going to be able to make any meaningful changes. We need people like you to question procedures and help create ones that are the most appropriate and beneficial to the individuals being helped.

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