When Annie Murphy Paul wrote, “The Upside of Dyslexia”, on The New York Times, she wanted to point out the unique strengths that some dyslexics possess and what successes overcoming their challenges may lead to. However, a number of letters poured in from their readers, all of them making the point that the research conducted doesn’t account for the millions of lives that are affected negatively by dyslexia.
Here are several quotes from the opinion letters received:
Nearly two million students in our public schools struggle with reading because of dyslexia. Learning to read with accuracy, fluency and comprehension greatly increases the likelihood of high school graduation, enrollment in college and career success. Dyslexia presents real obstacles to these students.
Twenty percent of students with disabilities drop out, and only 67 percent graduate with a regular diploma.
It’s not a gift when my son goes to get a snack at a community pool and burns his hands because he cannot read the sign on the counter that says, “Caution: Hot.” It’s not a gift when after over $100,000 spent (and borrowed) to address his dyslexia, there are still days when he does not recognize the word “the.” It’s not a gift when friends laugh at his homemade sign on his door to keep his brother out: “Do not disterv.”
The article states that an estimated 15 percent of the population is dyslexic. That translates to more than 45 million Americans.
Surely, the most painful quote is from the mother talking about how her son struggles with dyslexia. The time and money spent to help her son is physically, mentally, and financially exhausting, and to hear that the child still has trouble recognizing the word, “the”, is absolutely crushing.
With 45 million Americans struggling, it does make you wonder how many people actually know dyslexia is the cause? How many struggling readers are being avoided because of a lack of awareness?
While Annie Murphy Paul is correct to point out the successes and possibly even benefits of dyslexia, it’s hard to ignore the reality — millions are struggling and are possibly failing to receive the help they need and deserve.
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