Does Dyslexia Exist?

Durham professor argues that the term dyslexia is a “meaningless label sought out by middle-class parents who fear their children being branded stupid or lazy.”

A professor at Durham University has recently claimed that dyslexia is a useless term which should no longer be used.

Professor Julian Elliott, a former teacher of children with learning difficulties and currently Professor of Education at Durham University, has described the term dyslexia as “a meaningless label.”

Professor Julian Elliott from Durham University (Source: The Northern Echo)

Professor Elliot does not deny that some children do have genuine learning difficulties, but he does argue that the contemporary definition of dyslexia is so broad that it is now impossible to separate children suffering from dyslexia from others who are simply poor readers.

He claimed that attempting to distinguish between the two is a waste of time and resources, as the same techniques are used to help both sets of children improve their reading.

Therefore instead of focusing on long and expensive tests, he suggests schools should be trying to identify those who are struggling early on.

He said, focusing on parents from affluent areas, “Most parents are delighted with the label. Professionals have said to me that they agree but they still use the term because they make people happy.”

Many students receive support for their dyslexia through free printers and software.

There has been controversy surrounding Professor Elliott’s claims though.

At Durham, one second year said “I call what I have dyslexia, but that is only because it saves time explaining that I have a processing problem.”

In light of the extra facilities provided to students with dyslexia, this could have interesting repercussions.