A study that was funded by the National Institute of Health shows that the intelligence level of a child is unrelated to the specific brain pattern that causes the learning disability called dyslexia. This finding could change how specialists are currently diagnosing dyslexia.
The study was led by Dr. Fumiko Hoeft at Stanford University. The researchers focused on a group of 131 children. The children ranged in age from seven to sixteen years old. Kids in this group had a range of reading abilities, and a range of IQ scores. The study found that evidence of dyslexia was an independent factor from IQ score.
Right now, education specialists use the child’s IQ score as part of the diagnostic process to determine if a child has dyslexia. However, the study shows that the IQ of the child has no relation to whether or not a child has this particular learning disability. This means that the way specialists test for dyslexia needs to be changed to reflect this new finding.
If we stop using IQ as part of the way to diagnose dyslexia, then it could mean that more children would get the help they need. The authors of this study think:
“The evidence indicates that any child, with a reading difficulty, regardless of his or her general level of cognitive abilities (IQ), should be encouraged to seek reading intervention”.
In other words, children who have a high IQ, and who are struggling with reading, would qualify for the reading intervention that that is necessary in order for them to learn how to read. Kids who had higher IQ’s wouldn’t be excluded from these types of assistance simply because their IQ was over a certain number.
One can be dyslexic and have a high IQ at the same time. Or, a person could have a low IQ, and happen to be dyslexic. The high IQ doesn’t mean that it is impossible for that child to be dyslexic.
This study changes the way that people in general, as well as educators, might think about kids and adults who have dyslexia. Historically speaking, kids who have a great difficultly learning to read have been described as “slow”.
There is this assumption that kids who have dyslexia are not as intelligent as kids who don’t have this learning disability. The study shows that this assumption is not based on fact. Perhaps this will lead to the removal of the stigma that is often attached to having a learning disability.
Image by Sage Ross on Flickr