Dyslexia Association Statement
28th November, 2019
Although there are no local figures for dyslexia we can extrapolate using the Internationally recognized incidence of between 10% – 20%. Even using the more conservative figure of 10% this translates to at least 120,000 dyslexics in this country. The Dyslexia Association cannot provide you with a figure either, but what we can share is that around 30 parents contact us each month for screening, tutoring and or referrals for assessment. We are a small organization and this is just the tip of the iceberg.
We recognize that Dyslexia is not a health issue, but an educational one; and that provision for the dyslexic learner is firmly the responsibility of the Ministry of Education. However, dyslexia left unattended can lead to childhood depression (and make no mistake about this; we see many sad and depressed children in our schools). Two duplicated studies in the US and Australia looked at the suicide notes of teenage victims and found that 70% of them had the hallmark spelling errors and handwriting struggles of dyslexic students. Dyslexia left unattended is serious.
We would also like to add that there is now discussion in the literature of an “environmental dyslexia” caused by a dearth of language opportunities in the home. These children enter school with the same core difficulty that is the hallmark of dyslexia, weak phonological awareness. The result is the same; a spiral of failure that leads to sadness, poor self-esteem, depression, and sometimes suicidal thoughts and worse.
If the Ministry of Education does not implement services for failing readers we will continue to have children suffering from depression and incidents of student suicide.
The Dyslexia Association has trained almost 1,000 teachers in specific methods for teaching dyslexics and failing readers. Many of these teachers are in the public service. We strongly recommend that these teachers be used as dedicated remedial teachers in our schools.