Are Reading Problems Being Over-Diagnosed as Dyslexia?

Are your child's reading problems caused by dyslexia or a processing disorder?

A new book titled The Dyslexia Debate by Julian Elliott, professor of education at Durham University in the U.K., and Elena Grigorenko, professor of psychology at Yale, argues that common reading problems are over-diagnosed as dyslexia and that a diagnosis does not guarantee appropriate academic interventions. In the book, Elliott and Grigorenko argue that dyslexia, which includes complex problems decoding text and relating sounds in spoken language to words, affects approximately 1 to 2 percent of the population versus the estimated 5 to 10 percent who are currently diagnosed with the disorder. If dyslexia is over-diagnosed, then what are other potential causes of reading difficulty?

As experts continue to debate the potential over-diagnosis of dyslexia, parents are often left wondering what is causing their child's reading problems and what they can do now to improve learning ability now. Many parents, educators, and even medical professionals are unfamiliar with processing disorders that can mimic symptoms of dyslexia. Auditory processing disorder, which affects the brain's ability to correctly process what it hears, and visual processing disorder, which affects the way the brain interprets what it sees as well as the eyes' ability to maintain focus and work together, can both cause reading difficulties and may be misdiagnosed as dyslexia.

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