In the Journal of Learning Disabilities, a study in Dutch students confirmed a similar pattern of Stealth Dyslexia in the Netherlands. The paper also discussed the discrepancy that exists between students challenges (perceptual and memory deficits in visual and auditory discrimination, sequencing, decoding, short-term auditory memory, certain spatial abilities) and greater than average abilities in metacognition, verbal comprehension, reasoning, and abstract thinking.

They observed:

Stealth Dyslexia ResearchGifted children with dyslexia performed on all literacy tests in between children with dyslexia and TD children. Their cognitive profile showed signs of weaknesses in PA and RAN and strengths in VSTM, WM, and language skills. Findings indicate that phonology is a risk factor for gifted children with dyslexia, but this is moderated by other skills such as WM, grammar, and vocabulary, providing opportunities for compensation of a cognitive deficit and masking of literacy difficulties…”

PA=phonological awareness, RAN = rapid automatized naming, VSTM = verbal short-term memory, WM=working memory.

They concluded:

“Practical implications of the study mainly involve raising awareness about the ways in which dyslexia might occur in gifted children. Even though it is premature to derive new diagnostic criteria from these findings, it can be stated that teachers and diagnosticians should be more conscious about gifted children showing signs of underachievement,sudden deterioration in their school performance, or demotivation. Moreover, teachers have the responsibility to take action when they notice a child is falling behind in a specific domain, which is often neglected when dealing with twice-exceptional children…”

The finding is important for a number of reasons, to broaden recognition of this pattern of dyslexia among gifted students here in the US, improved identification and hopefully educational rights (appropriate education accommodations, expectaions, placement) and optimized teaching and learning for these talented but also potentially vulnerable students. Notably, this research group recognized also cognitive strengths of the gifted dyslexic group that outperformed non-dyslexic students.

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