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The assignment and distribution of the dyslexia label: Using the UK Millennium Cohort Study to investigate the socio-demographic predictors of the dyslexia label in England and Wales
PLOS ONE, Volume: 16, Issue: 8, Start page: e0256114
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The prevalence of dyslexia identification has increased significantly over the last two decades. Yet there is debate over whether there are distinct biological and cognitive differences between those with literacy difficulties and the subgroup of people identified as dyslexic. This is the first pape...
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The prevalence of dyslexia identification has increased significantly over the last two decades. Yet there is debate over whether there are distinct biological and cognitive differences between those with literacy difficulties and the subgroup of people identified as dyslexic. This is the first paper that provides evidence for this ongoing debate by investigating the socio-demographic factors, outside biology and cognition, that predict whether a child is identified as dyslexic in the UK. Using secondary data from the UK’s Millennium Cohort Study, this paper examines the socio-demographic factors that predict whether a child’s teacher identifies them as dyslexic at age 11. Gender, season of birth, socio-economic class and parental income are found to be significant predictors of the dyslexia label. Therefore, factors seemingly unrelated to the clinical aspects of dyslexia influence whether a child is identified as dyslexic in England and Wales. This suggests that label may not be evenly distributed across a population; furthermore, it may also indicate that resources for support may not be fairly allocated. The findings further support the argument that a 'dyslexic sub-group' within poor readers is created due to the impact of environmental factors. The results from this national-scale study thus questions the reliability, validity and moral integrity of the allocation of the dyslexia label across current education systems in the UK.
College of Arts and Humanities
CK ES/J500197/1 Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)