IS DYSLEXIA A MIDDLE CLASS DISABILITY? A CRITIQUE OF SOME DEFINITIONS
SPORN, ELLEN L.
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The World Federation of Neurology's 1968 definition of developmental dyslexia excluded children who were not from a "culturally stimulating environment." Using statistical analysis, this study sought to test the social class aspect of that definition and other definitions as well. The Boder Reading-Spelling Pattern Test (BRSPT) was used to examine the reading-spelling performance of children diagnosed as dyslexic by evaluating teams of the New York City Committees on the Handicapped. On the basis of three criteria: (a) the percentage of known words spelled correctly, (b) the percentage of unknown words spelled as good phonetic equivalents, and (c) the reading quotient, children were assigned to subgroups. In addition, qualitative features as described by Boder about each child's reading and spelling were recorded.;Four hypotheses were formulated for statistical testing. The BRSPT had been reported in the literature, but there was limited evidence as to its validity and reliability; therefore, a discriminant analysis was used to determine if Boder's aforementioned criteria for subgrouping indeed allowed for subgroup classification of an undifferentiated population of dyslexics.;The classification of cases agreed 91.35% with the Boder scoring system. Two significant functions were derived and named the phonic spelling function and the reading quotient function.;The chi-square statistic was used to test the next three hypotheses. Comparisons were made between the proportion of low socio-economic and middle socio-economic children in the subgroups and no significant difference was found.;When subgroup proportions of black and white children were compared, it was found that they differed significantly. Each racial sample was examined as to its internal distribution and it was evident that the proportions of males to females among the white children was 5 to 1, while males and females in the black sample were almost equal. The subgroup proportions of black to white males was therefore compared. No significant difference was found. When females in the two groups were compared, their distribution in each was too small to test statistically.;Thus it was shown using the BRSPT that regardless of socio-economic status or race, dyslexic children manifested similar symptoms to one another. These findings supported the idea that dyslexia could be diagnosed regardless of class.
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