barbee-dyslexia“I would often have parents say, “I think my child has dyslexia.” I would listen to their concerns, nodding my head and then when they finished speaking, I would explain that the education system does not use the term “dyslexia.” ” – Susanna Barbee, former school psychologist

Recently a former school psychologist penned an article in attempt to explain why schools identified specific learning disabilities instead of dyslexia.It’s of interest that she defines it as a “neurological deficit” especially considering that health insurance companies routinely deny coverage because learning disabilities are considered educational problems that should be evaluated by school districts.

finger-pointingThe problem with finger pointing is that educational systems (including schools of education) may deem it unnecessary to train every teacher to understand dyslexia, while health care systems (including schools of medical education) deem it unnecessary to train their practitioners to identify and advise regarding dyslexia. From Aetna health insurance, for example, “Psychological and neuropsychological testing has been used in the educational context in children with suspicion of a learning disorder leading to changes in school performance, so as to differentiate between mental subnormality, emotional disturbance, and the specific learning disabilities in speech and reading (e.g., dyslexia).  Psychological and neuropsychological testing are also used to develop a specialized treatment plan to help the child improve the performance of these cognitive functions leading to a better performance in school, work, and personal relationships.  However, psychological and neuropsychological testing for educational reasons is not covered, as standard Aetna benefit plans exclude educational testing.  In addition, psychological and neuropsychological testing performed for educational reasons is not considered treatment of disease.  This testing is usually provided by school systems under applicable state and federal rules.”  The situation would almost be laughable if it were not tragic.

There are also small groups who try to defy the existence of dyslexia, ignoring over a century of science, sociological, and educational research throughout the globe, and others – even well-meaning who hope not to identify any distinctions all-together – but the problem with this is several-fold including:

1. Depriving students of the opportunity of learning that their pattern of challenges and strengths is part of a well-recognized pattern and part of an ultimately positive future

2. Depriving individuals from the knowledge and use of appropriate supports and strategies that can help them negotiate the worlds of education and workplace, and finally

3. Depriving individuals of a community of like-minded creative and talented individuals who have lived some of what they have gone through themselves and who seek to support them in what they aspire to.