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Who understands dyslexia?

Posted by Garry Collins, ETAQ Immediate Past President on 2 May 2016

The following letter was submitted to The Courier-Mail for possible inclusion in the edition of Saturday 30 April 2016 but it was not selected for publication.

Dyslexia not a clear cut thing

Fiona Brady (Letters, April 28) wrote that her Year 3 son cannot read and that he has dyslexia. She has my sympathy.

No doubt many readers believe that the term dyslexia has a precise scientific meaning backed by widely agreed research and that experts at least, if not all ordinary classroom teachers, know exactly how students with this condition should be supported. That is certainly what I used to think. Many readers might be interested to learn that a 2014 book entitled The Dyslexia Debate argues that this is not so. The authors are Professor Julian Elliott from Durham University in the UK and Professor Elena Grigorenko from Yale University in the US.

They acknowledge that "many believe that a diagnosis of dyslexia will shed light on a reader's struggles and help identify the best form of intervention". However, their comprehensive and critical review of the available research literature leads them to the conclusion that use of the term adds little value.

All students should be supported to learn to read effectively. It should not depend on parents paying to have their children officially diagnosed as dyslexic.

Garry Collins

Author: Garry Collins, ETAQ Immediate Past President
About: Garry Collins was ETAQ President from mid July 2005 to 15 March 2014. He taught English in state high schools for around 35 years and now tutors in English curriculum courses in the School of Education at the University of Queensland.
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