Most experts agree that dyslexia accounts for 80% of all learning disabilities, and nearly 20% of the population is hampered by it. However the rates of dyslexia soar higher among the homeless and the incarcerated. The intersectionality with mental health issues is clear as well. While people of means can find tutors and specialized schools for their kids, as well as relief for the anxiety and depression that comes with failing, too many other families are left behind.
As dropping literacy rates were noticed throughout the 1990s, Congress called for a National Reading Panel. To examine best practices in reading instruction, the panel reviewed 100,000 studies and published a comprehensive report. Among other things, there was no evidence to show “whole language” pedagogy is effective. Whole language focuses on reading sentences and paragraphs, but ignores words. Rather, the report concluded that teaching children the relationship among sounds, letters and spelling patterns improves reading for all struggling readers, not simply those with dyslexia.
Since then, the “balanced literacy” approach became popular and helps natural readers but still leaves out struggling readers and dyslexic students. 20 years after the National Reading Panel we have made little progress in preparing teachers to teach reading and writing. The specialized schools train their own teachers. The International Dyslexia Association has identified only 25 colleges in the U.S. that prepare teachers to work with dyslexic readers.
If you are interested I can send you research on the intersectionality of dyslexia and mass incarceration, and a separate report on dyslexia and homelessness.
Dyslexia (Plus) Task Force