National Health Survey Should Include Dyslexia in Communication Disorder Counts The August Leader News in Brief article “Almost 8 Percent of U.S. Children Have a Communication or Swallowing Disorder” provided information from the National Health Interview Survey report, which cited communication disorders as speech, language and voice problems, with no mention of dyslexia. Because dyslexia occurs far more often than ... Inbox
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Inbox  |   October 01, 2015
National Health Survey Should Include Dyslexia in Communication Disorder Counts
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Language Disorders / Reading & Writing Disorders / Inbox
Inbox   |   October 01, 2015
National Health Survey Should Include Dyslexia in Communication Disorder Counts
The ASHA Leader, October 2015, Vol. 20, 4. doi:10.1044/leader.IN2.20102015.4
The ASHA Leader, October 2015, Vol. 20, 4. doi:10.1044/leader.IN2.20102015.4
The August Leader News in Brief article “Almost 8 Percent of U.S. Children Have a Communication or Swallowing Disorder” provided information from the National Health Interview Survey report, which cited communication disorders as speech, language and voice problems, with no mention of dyslexia. Because dyslexia occurs far more often than the reported “3.3 percent language problems,” it could not have been included in that figure.
NIH agencies have spearheaded dyslexia research in the past, which makes the exclusion particularly disappointing. Government agencies need to recognize that dyslexia is a communication disorder. It involves the same language components as oral language disorders, especially phonology. Government reports disseminate information, or “communicate,” through writing and reading, typically prepared by people without dyslexia. Unfortunately, many highly intelligent children (and adults) are blocked from pursuing careers involving reading/writing because of their dyslexia. In addition, many of them have accompanying oral language problems that tend to be underdiagnosed.
Our profession encompasses diagnosis and treatment of both oral and written language disorders as we work closely with other disciplines. We need to understand the magnitude of our task. When agencies summarize figures on “communication disorders,” they should not exclude, hypothetically, half the population that has that designation. It casts doubt over all reported figures.
Carol Kamara, Rockville, Maryland

Thank you for sharing your letter. For more information on dyslexia and its categorization, please see “Language-Based Learning Disabilities” on the ASHA website.

Correction

Due to an error in editing, “A Hidden Epidemic of Lost Sleep,” a sidebar to the September 2015 column “Case Puzzler: The Tongue Was Involved, But What Was the Trouble?,” incorrectly reported the prevalence of sleep difficulties. According to the World Association of Sleep Medicine, sleep problems affect up to 45 percent of the world’s population.

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October 2015
Volume 20, Issue 10