Monday, October 13, 2008

Misleading Dyslexia Headlines

Research Finds Genetic Causes Behind Dyslexia

That's the headline . It doesn't really say that in the article. Dyslexia reporting is often of this poor quality. I was put off by their calling dyslexia a disease but I did some research and did find that some sources include genetic defect as a definition of disease. That isn't the most common use in English but I can't say it is wrong just that many will not be familiar with how they are using the term disease.

This isn't a shout it out from the rooftops moment but I like the direction of the research. It is new, fresh and based on a different way of developing what may be a cost effective dyslexia identification method for a majority of dyslexics.

This is what the article says that relates to the headline. My analysis of the value of the research follows.

"We are trying to find out which genes cause the disease. A predisposition to dyslexia could be detected by a genetic test to support affected children appropriately at a very early age," says Arndt Wilcke, scientist at the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology (IZI) in Leipzig.

The research focus is based on the structural differences in the dyslexic brain and is trying to determine the genes that cause the structural differences. To date the genetic research has looked at families with a high incidence of dyslexia and found "dyslexia genes " related to those families but have not been successful finding " dyslexia genes" that are universal.

These scientists hope to find the gene responsible for the structural differences in the brain which is likely to be more universal to populations of dyslexics. The identification of the particular genes is still years away but their investigation is in a direction that I believe could be successful. By the time they identify the gene ( or genes) the cost of genetic testing should be relatively inexpensive. The cost of genetic testing continues to drop as new techniques are
developed and more labs have the capability to run the tests.

One down side of medical testing for dyslexia is that if 10% of the population is dyslexic then 10 people need to be tested to identify 1 dyslexic and the effective cost is 10 times the cost of the test. That is why even if fMRI testing finally becomes able to identify individual dyslexics it will never be used as a screening method.

It must be recognized that all dyslexics that take part in dyslexia studies have been identified as dyslexic by pen and paper tests and personal evaluations. As much of the testing can be done in stages eliminating many as not dyslexic early on at little cost , it may be that what is missing from dyslexia screening is not a new method but rather the failure to use the screening methods available on all our children.

Perhaps the best headline we could hope for is not a new medical breakthrough in medical testing but

Federal Government Mandates and Pays for Dyslexia Screening for All Children!!!!!!!!

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