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Educationalist Questions Scientific Validity of Dyslexia


An educationist has cast doubt on the condition dyslexia, maintaining it “does not exist in a way that is of any help to anyone”.

Writing in the Times Educational Supplement, Julian Elliott, professor of education at Durham university, said dyslexia is a “construct”, which has gained currency largely for emotional, rather than scientific, reasons.

He said that there was no consensus about what dyslexia is and how to diagnose it.

His work has been criticised by the British Dyslexia Association, who have said Prof Elliot's claims are inflammatory.

Prof Elliott says poor readers want to be called dyslexic because of a widespread, but wrong, perception that dyslexics are generally intellectually bright. After 30 years in the field, he says, he has little confidence in his ability to diagnose it.

He wrote: “Contrary to claims of ‘miracle cures’, there is no sound, widely-accepted body of scientific work that has shown that there exists any particular teaching approach more appropriate for ‘dyslexic’ children than for other poor readers.”

His claims have angered the British Dyslexia Association. The charity's chief executive Professor Susan Tresman said people with dyslexia often had different symptoms, not just problems with words, and that Professor Elliott seemed to be viewing dyslexia just in terms of poor reading skills.

Government figures suggest that around 10% of people in the UK have dyslexia.

Students diagnosed as having dyslexia are given up to 25% extra time in GCSEs, A-levels and vocational assessments


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