If your child has dyslexia, a change is taking place that could affect you personally. Please read on to find out what is happening this week—and what you can do about it.
As you may know, doctors use DSM codes to diagnose learning disabilities. If a disability doesn’t have a DSM code, most insurance companies and schools don’t view the disability as “real.” Dyslexia hasn’t had its own DSM code in the past, and that’s one of the reasons why it has been so hard for many kids to get the remediation they need to overcome the symptoms of dyslexia.
Last fall, dyslexia was given its own DSM code in the draft of the DSM-5 manual, which is due to come out in 2013. Over the past several years, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) has been revising the DSM manual and, in the draft, dyslexia was recognized as a real disability and given its own code of 315.00. That was great news, but the news didn’t last for long.
Unfortunately, the most recent draft of the DSM-5 no longer includes a diagnostic code specifically for dyslexia. This is a HUGE step backwards for our children, because if dyslexia isn’t considered a real disability, why would anyone treat it?
Dyslexia is a real disorder, and it can be diagnosed and treated. But when a disorder does not have a DSM code, it is very difficult to get a diagnosis and treatment. We at All About Learning Press strongly support the inclusion of dyslexia in DSM-5, andwe feel that the current revision represents a grave mistake.
Take a minute to sign this online petition to get dyslexia back in the DSM-5. Public comments on the DSM-5 are being accepted through June 15, and the International Dyslexia Association—which works tirelessly to help those with dyslexia—is collecting signatures to present to the decision-makers.
Once you’ve made your voice heard, please spread the word! Feel free to link to this blog post on Facebook to increase awareness, and please encourage your friends to take action as well. But don’t wait! The window of opportunity for public comments on the revisions to DSM-5 will end this Friday, June 15.
Then share below! Is it important to you to have dyslexia recognized as a real learning disability?
Several people have emailed us wanting more information about the IDA’s rationale for wanting to change the DSM-V. Some have concerns that dyslexia is being labeled as a psychiatric condition, while others just want to know what practical value the coding has.
Dyslexia is neurological in origin—a fact that is affirmed in the actual definition of dyslexia that is accepted by both the National Institute of Health and the International Dyslexia Association. (You can see that definition in our article, What Is Dyslexia?) The fact that it is coded with a DSM code does not change that. The DSM is the resource for coding learning disabilities, sleep disorders, and other conditions that we might not readily consider under the umbrella of “mental health.” Without a code, dyslexia will not be as readily identified, and educational treatment will be more generic or not be offered at all.
The researchers on the International Dyslexia Association Scientific Advisory Board who are requesting the DSM-V change have backgrounds in pediatrics, neurology, cognitive science, educational intervention, and cognitive neuroscience, including neuropsychology. Check out their well-written (and not too long) position paper for a full explanation of their rationale.
Here at AALP, we hear from parents over and over that their school districts won’t acknowledge dyslexia as a real problem. The schools say that the child is just a slow reader. If we don’t name dyslexia, it is hard to relay that it is a legitimate problem that needs a specific treatment (namely Orton-Gillingham-type instruction).
In an ideal world, parents and teachers would know the signs of reading difficulty without ever having to put a name to it. They would sense what the problem is, and automatically know how to fix it. But that type of knowledge isn’t common in our culture yet.
The DSM names other learning disabilities, and by putting dyslexia in the same category, it will enable more kids to be diagnosed and receive the proper educational intervention.
If your child is educated outside the school system, it most likely isn’t necessary to have dyslexia officially diagnosed. I strongly support parents who notice their child’s learning difference and educate themselves on how to best help their child at home. That’s what I did with my own son. But for every child who is home educated by parents who are knowledgeable about learning differences and dyslexia, there are hundreds of children in the school system who are sadly left behind without the education that they desperately need and deserve.