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Friends: but everyones different

Mon Aug 29, 2011 1:34 am

Hello guys hope you're well,
I was in the pub the other night with friends and we were discussing conditions like dyslexia dyspraxia etc and they were saying that too many children get labled and that its not a different way of learning as "everyone learns differently" and everyone has strengths and weaknesses which is true people do have strengths and weaknesses but i found it hard to explain what makes us different but they also said things like short term memory etc are features of the condition they're just personality traits according to them and they don't get how conditions can cross over. Felt quite frustrated

Re: Friends: but everyones different

Mon Aug 29, 2011 10:38 am

I come across this problem a lot too and I know how frustrating it is. I think it's a problem with all hidden disabilities-when you talk about dyspraxia, people say that everybody is clumsy, when you talk about ADHD, people say that lots of people are hyperactive, when you talk about Aspergers, people say that everybody has felt socially awkward and when you talk about dyslexia, the attitude is that it's all about poor spelling. I don't really know what the answer is other than to keep reiterating that it's more than that.

Re: Friends: but everyones different

Mon Aug 29, 2011 1:23 pm

I think it's always difficult to make people who haven't lived with these conditions to make them understand properly. I personally think a lot of these conditions need more awareness being raised for them especially in the media to help people understand better.

Re: Friends: but everyones different

Mon Aug 29, 2011 3:40 pm

I find a lot of people say "me too" when I explain about my memory, my organisational skills, my social skills, my coordination etc. Later, when it becomes evident that I do struggle more with those things, it's put down to a lack of effort.

Re: Friends: but everyones different

Mon Aug 29, 2011 5:34 pm

My dyspraxia is a lot better than it was when I was younger, and when I'm out and about although it doesnt always happen I'm careful to try not to spill drinks over everyone etc if they lived with me they'd see how rubbish my memory is and how disorganised I can be etc etc. I think they also think you get a label of dyspraxia, dyslexia etc and you automatically get extra help for things. This is what my friend said to me in a message. its a long message prior warning

It's not that I think it's unfair that people with difficulties get extra help and support, they clearly need it in order to bring them up to speed with children with standard cognitive function, but I think labelling slow readers as dyslexic is damaging to what is a very real disorder. For you to be saying that the four kids you're working with are dyslexic but not diagnosed seems irresponsible - only a trained educational psychologist can make that call, as with any other medical condition.

That these kids are statemented is good - it indicates they have a generalised learning difficulty and require extra help, which secures the school funding to hire someone like you. But labels like dyslexia are more attractive than 'generalised learning difficulty', and it doesn't hurt that there's still an association between dyslexia and high intelligence (though this association is a fallacy) and that dyslexia allows children extra time in exams and extra support in schools - it means higher education institutions love it as their pass marks improve and they rise in league tables.

It's not helpful that there is no clear definition of dyslexia - some include clumsiness as well as difficulty reading and writing (which I presume may have lead to your recently getting the idea that you may have dyslexic tendencies?) But to label children as dyslexic because they’re confused by poor teaching methods is wicked. Dyslexia is, if not overdiagnosed, then massively overclaimed - particularly by parents looking to offset the embarrassment of children's poor exam results. And given the research you've done that having dyslexia impacts negatively on children's self esteem, in part due to the connotations with being a 'problematic' student, surely a misdiagnosis or false claim is equally damaging, potentially even more so if the child is shown not to be dyslexic but simply a slow reader.

Anyway. As I said at dinner, I think our hypochondriac modern society overdignoses a multitude of genuinely debilitating conditions, to the detriment of everyone involved. The trivialisation of things like dyslexia leads to so many people not taking them seriously - just google dyslexia overdiagnosis to find thousands of people flippantly claiming the condition doesn't even exist. ADHD suffers from a greater level of misdiagnosis than perhaps any other disorder, working as a mask for poor or lazy parenting which clouds the ability to treat and manage people who are 'victims', a word I'm loathe to use in this context. The trouble is that the label can never be taken back - one can never 'recover' from ADHD or dyslexia, but rather learn to manage it. This is a rather damning condemnation for a child who is simply having a difficult term to then live with. Everyone has their weaknesses and their own struggles to deal with, burdening a child with another troublesome label seems cruel and unnecessary. I fully condone personalised support and additional attention for children - whether that be extra help with reading and writing, noticing signs of neglect, or challenging able children further to maximise their potential. I fully believe in dyslexia as a genuine and debilitating condition which many people suffer with - just not so many as some people would have us believe.

Re: Friends: but everyones different

Wed Aug 31, 2011 6:42 pm

Is this person a trained educational psychologist with experience in conducting research into the prevalence and diagnosis rates of developmental disorders?

If not, it's a bit hypocritical of him/her to tell you that you aren't qualified to comment on whether your students might be dyslexic. He/she also has no business to be deciding whether you have dyslexic tendencies or not. Of course only a professional can make the diagnosis, but referrals are made to those professionals when the people in the student's life notice there is a problem and start to think what it could be. You are right to be attentive to your students' difficulties in this way.

Also, your friend is wrong - a generalised learning difficulty is a different condition from dyslexia, meaning that all areas of a person's learning are impaired. Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty, affecting only certain aspects of cognitive function, and as such it requires different intervention and support. This is why it is very important for the diagnosis to be right. As for funding, a diagnosis of general learning disabilities would attract much more money than a diagnosis of dyslexia, so his/her argument about overdiagnosis being a means to get more funding makes no sense in this context. The implication that extra time leads to better exam results and higher positions in league tables is also false: a 2004 study (Bridgeman, McBride, and Monaghan) found that cognitively typical candidates do not improve their exam scores when given extra time.

There are other problems in the argument as well: the idea that a diagnosis can never be taken back (yes, it can - diagnoses can be mistaken and they can be revoked) and above all the pervasive assumption that to be diagnosed with dyslexia is a terrible burdensome thing. I am severely dyspraxic, but I don't 'suffer' from dyspraxia; I just happen to have certain difficulties in my life, and I don't need to be pitied or patronised for that.

I can see why it bothers you when people make arguments like this (especially when they try to silence you by pointing out your lack of professional qualifications, before going on to play the professional themselves). That said, I wouldn't bother responding. Your energy is better employed in supporting your students than in challenging people whose ideas are so fixed.

Re: Friends: but everyones different

Wed Aug 31, 2011 7:27 pm

thankyou very much for the reply vicky much appricated, my friend has no experience of working with special needs, and the only primary school experience she has is a placement for 6 weeks and as a friendship group theres only me who has any kind of difficulties and my ex boyfriend who we very rarely see so its if she's giving her point of view from reading newspapers rather than real life situations. I know if i was ever to get a diagnosis of dyslexia as well as dyspraxia I wouldnt go to her and thats what upsets me the most that I cant confinde in her.

Re: Friends: but everyones different

Mon Sep 05, 2011 6:31 pm

I find it really annoying when I was making a fuss in that I didn't get extra time in exams when EVERY other people that goes to learning support did and other people were like "Stop making a fuss- if you should get extra time we all should!"

Everyone assumes because I'm clever I don't need help, and even some say I was overdiagnosed. (my swimming skills, non existent bike riding skills and shoe laces would disagree.)
It does annoy me when people don't take dyspraxia, dyslexia, ADHD e.t.c seriously. Also when some people say they are dyslexic even though it has never been diagnosed or when people say "Oh I'm probably dyspraxic."
When it is clear they are not.

Re: Friends: but everyones different

Sat Nov 26, 2011 6:23 pm

Everyone may be different but the sad fact is that labels open doors to support in peoples life, and also give an explanation to how people feel, and think "Ah, So I'm NOT a freak, I've got XYZ"

Could post alot more but need to check on pasta.

Re: Friends: but everyones different

Sun Nov 27, 2011 12:28 am

thanks for the reply ruby
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