Medical professionals are in a unique position to help screen and refer children for learning disabilities. Since dyslexia is a highly prevalent disorder that has genetic and biological components and is largely unidentified in the population, a quick screening tool and parents resources can help positively change the lives of children and their families.
Considering the psychological burden of undiagnosed dyslexia you might encounter a child who is intelligent, struggling in school, and/or has had a change in behavior or mood. It is also important to remember that undiagnosed dyslexia can look like ADD/ADHD and also that there is a high comorbidity with ADHD and dyslexia.
Your patient's family may ask for documentation identifying that the child has a learning disability caused by a mental or physical impairment if their insurance company includes coverage for remediation services.
Don't believe the myths! Dr. Nadine Gaab debunks several myths on the Gaab Lab website.
Resources to share with parents:
See the Parent section of our website.
Articles and Statements:
Sanfilippo, J., Ness, M., Petscher, Y., Rappaport, L., Zuckerman, B., & Gaab, N. (2019, September 20). Reintroducing Dyslexia: Early Identification and Implications for Pediatric Practice. https://doi.org/10.31219/osf.io/z4ryh
"Dyslexia is a common learning disability that renders children susceptible to poor health outcomes and many elements of socio-economic difficulty. It is commonly undiagnosed until a child has repeatedly failed to learn to read in elementary school; this late diagnosis not only puts the child at an academic disadvantage but also can be a precursor to psychiatric comorbidities such as anxiety and depression."
Learning Disabilities, Dyslexia, and Vision:
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Joint Technical Report, March 2011: Learning Disabilities, Dyslexia, and Vision Handler, Sheryl and Fierson, Walter, the Section on Ophthalmology and Council on Children with Disabilities, American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS), and American Association of Certified Orthoptists (AACO)
American Academy of Ophthalmology - Joint Statement: Learning Disabilities, Dyslexia, and Vision - Reaffirmed 2014, AAP, AAPOS, AACO and AAO Hoskins Center for Quality Eye Care
"Because dyslexia is a language-based disorder, treatment should be directed at this etiology. Most students with dyslexia require highly structured, intensive, individualized instruction by a teacher or educational therapist who was specially trained explicitly in teaching the application of phonics."
How Should Medical Schools Respond to Students with Dyslexia?, American Medical Association (AMA) Journal of Ethics article
"To begin with, it is important to understand the critical difference between dyslexia and learning disabilities. In contrast to dyslexia, which is a highly specific condition, learning disabilities represent a more general, nonspecific category. To illustrate, the difference between learning disability and dyslexia parallels the difference between diagnosing a sore throat as an “infectious disease” which is nonspecific, or as “strep throat,” which is highly specific and amenable to a targeted, evidence-based treatment, penicillin."
AMA - article calling for dyslexia education to be a mandatory part of the curriculum for medical students (not able to link to the article, but it is available to those with access)
A team at Boston Children's Hospital is creating an app to help early identify students at risk of reading struggles including dyslexia - There's An App for That