Dyslexia and Parents Literacy
It is debatable and probably our personal opinion, but having a dyslexic parent and literacy abilities of those parents who are non-dyslexic parent may be related to offspring risk of dyslexia.
Why parents, some may ask. Well we can conceptualize the reality that parental abilities may possibly be viewed as indicators of offspring’s liability for literacy difficulties, since parents provide offspring with genetic and environmental endowment.
The only question is that do the precursors of Dyslexia in a parent specifically predict Dyslexia and reading development in the child or do they also act upon the delays known to us as Dyscalculia and arithmetic development.
In India with families wanting to avoid the shame and stigma of having a child with a Academic Disability the characteristics of the family and the truth of the developmental period in which children who go on to develop Dyslexia are born is never known fully.
If Indian parents were open and we would say considerably open to understanding the reality of reading and writing, then insights gleaned might help for tracing children who are at heightened risk of reading failure and need timely support.
Normally at the DAI™ we find fathers saying – “oh he is just like me” and when we ask of the profession of the father, it usually is not a proud moment.
It really depends upon how we want to define Dyslexia, but the manner in which it is being defined in India, where any learning disability is categorised as Dyslexia, we would say that at least, in our very personal and equivocal opinion, 45 to 75% of the children, who have a parent, who has have had academic learning difficulties at school may be standing at the familial risk of developing a specific learning difficulty.
It is a bit of a sad situation, but even within the group of children who may have a familial risk of developing a specific learning difficulty, a wide range of environmental and genetic risk factors can play their role in determining how the child is going to evolve academically.
Those children who are most at risk, and who come from families where the financial structure and environmental structure are stacked against them, will go on to reinforce their inability to learn how to read and write correctly, and progress up the meritocratic ladder. Those who come from families, which are, blessed enough to not worry about how the child is scoring in school, at a later stage are faced with the difficulty of not understanding how to get the child through a course of his choice or a University of eminence.
In fact in the dissemination of our advice to parents whenever we go to conduct a seminar we suggest that there is a significant degree of evidence against equal liability which means that if the parent of the affected child had a very severe learning disability when they were in school, then you should expect that the possibility of your child exhibiting the symptoms is going to be as high were even higher.
That there is a genetic predisposition is now considered a given, and in our own personal view we find that parents who have had significant difficulties in school, tend to underreport the problems of the children, than do those parents who did not have any difficulty in academics during the schooling years.
Therefore it becomes all the more important, that if there is a parent who was weak and studies, they should consider the possibility that they may be providing their child a less advantageous literacy environment, as compared to the parent who was good in studies, and who knows the importance of academics and is trying to provide a enriched literacy environment to his child, and then there are those parents who come from families who feel that “this is how children develop”, who allow the child to create his own literacy environment, which in our personal opinion is quite disastrous.
On the issue of whether the intergenerational transmission of risks being predominantly genetic or having environmental pathways also play a role in the way children develop their reading and writing abilities. We believe that it is a combination of both, and from most of the children who come to the Dyslexia Association of India™, we find that children as young as 4 to 5 years old are beginning to show an impairment across learning to read, as well as deficits in the key precursors of the learning disability setting in.
At the Dyslexia Association of India™, we also see screening reports of children, who do not have Dyslexia, but have got lower cognitive abilities as measured by their IQ, who also labeled as having Dyslexia for the simplicity of the want of another categorisation. In our personal opinion this is absolutely incorrect, and although we do find that there is a correlation between the IQ and the literacy level of the parents, along with the work that the parents are performing in society, such children when they are labeled as being Dyslexic, puts them on a absolutely incorrect path of remediation, while we should be looking at enhancing their environment and enriching the literacy environment in which they are growing up. Parents have a huge role to play in this, and the more the number of parents who come forward to have their child appropriately screened and tested, it would be much easier for them to help their progeny.
The more we try to ignore the issue, as we see it at home, the higher the disservice to our child.
Again it is a personal observation, but we would suggest to parents who did not perform very well in academics, to raise a question in their mind about the deficiencies in the cognitive skills underpinning the academic ability that their child is showing, and consider the reality that if their child does not have Dyslexia, but has cognitive related issues, then there is a high degree of possibility that by the time the child is in class III or class IV, the child is going to exhibit differences in his or her ability to keep up with the curriculum.
Numerous multiple interacting risk and co-related factors are responsible for the development of word literacy skills in children, and what we are finding in India is that the co morbidity rates, between learning disabilities is so high that there is a huge overlap between Dyslexia which is a specific learning difference and the overall cognitive performance of the child relating to other subjects like mathematics, and the second language that is taught in our schools.
Multifactorial deficits can be responsible for the performance of your child in school, and we normally share these with parents who come to the Dyslexia Association of India™, and help them understand how at the cognitive level for their child, shared unique skills are responsible for the academic delay that their child may be indicating for.
Parents, whose children are having academic difficulties, should ask themselves a few questions, and these would be about their exposure to print and their own literacy difficulties in school. We would encourage to question yourself, that when you look back at your life how many hours per week did you spend on an average reading academic books? Or reading books which were storybooks and for fun? And how many hours on a daily basis did you spend on writing. A lot of potent answers can be gathered from these questions if the parents were to be sincere enough to acknowledge them.
We would ask parents to consider that where they, fast readers, or were they slow readers. A number of parents indicate that they had a lot of spelling problems in school, and that they had a lot of trouble following subtitles on the screen.
If we were to ask you as a parent a question, and the question would be that “do you ask your child any question during storybook reading”, or “do you encourage your child to tell you about what he or she has done at the school”, you would know in your own heart and mind where you stand in relation to your child's learning disabilities, and what you are doing about them.
We firmly believe that parental self-reported learning difficulties to a very large extent differentiate those children who have a specific learning difference and those children who do not have a learning disability. In fact this correlation is so strong as per us, that if you as a parent are reading this article, do take a minute off to go through the free screener that we have put up on our website, and quickly input the first factors that come into your mind for your own child, and you would be quite surprised by the result.
Parental education, and literacy difficulties are to a large extent in our personal opinion correlated to their children’s reading outcomes and the intergenerational transfer of reading skills can be substantive and the children affected by such circumstances can suffer silently for life and such children report on average more difficulty with reading to learn themselves.
So the question that comes to mind is – do children who go on to exhibit a learning disorder or develop a specific difficulty like Dyslexia have a higher parental mandated predisposition towards Dyslexia and that are parental skills indicative of their children’s liability.
Our personal view and one that we hold is that yes - individual differences in an objective analysis of parental reading fluency and parental literacy difficulties does differentiate amongst children with and without a Learning Disability whether it is accurately diagnosed as Dyslexia or any other specific Learning Disability. The gene correlation and the environment correlation make a difference, and children who go on to develop learning disabilities in the future are also the same children who are and were less read to because they were less interested in books.
Our observation is that the amount of literacy-related activities that a child will seek and a childs early language and cognitive development may possibly affect the cognitive and academic achievement of the child.
We would suggest to parents that be aware of your childs risk for a Learning Disability and pay extra attention to having him/her tested and then teach the child as per the doctors guidance so that higher treatment fidelity is obtained for your child.
Otherwise the learning capacity of your child may be affected and the developmental consequence of impairments in basic Learning will come home to haunt us when our children underperform in a ever growing competitive environment.
Take charge of your children today. It is not worth waiting till class V or VI to be told that the child is performing poorly or is weak in his or her studies or that he does not put in more effort or that she can do better if only she concentrates. These are all redundant statements in our schools, which indicate only one reality.
“ The child has a Learning Disability” and be ready for a rude shock.
To make an appointment with the DAI™ please call us on +91 – 8826022886 or e mail us for an appointment on firstname.lastname@example.org as at the Dyslexia Association of India™ we have a strict policy to comprehensively check and diagnose only one child per day.
Any payment that is made for your appointment at the DAI™ qualifies for exemption from Income Tax (IT) and parents are provided a Section 80G receipt so that they can use it when filing their Income Tax Returns.
* Opinions and information expressed by the DAI™ are equivocal and personal to the researchers and specific to the organization.