Letter to SCIENCE Editors
Letters Editor, SCIENCE April 16, 2001 Christine Pearce
re: Paulesu E, Demonet J-F, Fazio F, McCrory E, Chanoine V, Brunswick N, Cappa SF, Cossu G, Habib M, Frith CD, Frith U. Dyslexia:Cultural Diversity and Biological Unity. Science. 2001; 291:2165-2167. To the Letters Editor, Embracing " one of the most respected behavioral definitions of dyslexia (word recognition accuracy in relation to IQ)," Paulesu, et.al.  ignore the definitive work of Shaywitz et al . Seeking to determine whether "discrepancy testing"--subtracting ones reading achievement score from ones IQ (aptitude)--reliably diagnoses "dyslexia," Shaywitz et al found that only 28% children identified as "dyslexic" in the first grade still had it in the third grade. They concluded: "This study allowed us to investigate the commonly held belief that dyslexia is a discrete diagnostic entity. Our data do not support this notion." Therefore, it cannot be assumed that " one of the most respected behavioral definitions of dyslexia (word recognition accuracy in relation to IQ)," establishes/diagnoses the presence of dyslexia, a focal encephalopathy; a distinct disease or medical syndrome. It cannot be assumed, using such criteria, that subjects thus identified are other than physically, neurologically, intact, poor readers. If there is a disease, herein, yet to be identified, it will take a new and different technology to do so. Unable to diagnose dyslexia, the presumed disease, or medical syndrome, one cannot presume to know what its PET, functional MRI, or anatomic MRI scan, or its histological, pathological (at biopsy or autopsy) concomitants actually are. In the US where so-called whole language methodology is widely used to the exclusion of phonics to teach reading of the English language, "Two thirds of students tested fell below the level the federal government considers "proficient" and 37 percent fell below even "basic" knowledge of reading, meaning they can read little beyond simple words and sentences and cannot draw conclusions from what they read." G. Reid Lyon, chief of the Child Development and Behavior branch at the National Institutes of Health blamed schools of education, in the US, for their tendency to "embrace unproved, ineffective reading programs" . Paulesu, et al  conclude: "Positron emission tomography scans during explicit and implicit reading showed the same reduced activity in a region of the left hemisphere in dyslexics " So stating, they imply that " reduced activity in a region of the left hemisphere " is specific for "dyslexia," which they imply is a proven disease/ diagnosable neurological syndrome. Without validation of "dyslexia," as a disease/ diagnosable neurological syndrome, it can only be concluded that such " reduced activity in a region of the left hemiphere " is a finding common to "poor readers--not otherwise specified." Fred A. Baughman Jr., MD Fellow, American Academy of Neurology Board Certified in Neurology and Child Neurology 1303 Hidden Mountain Drive El Cajon, CA 92019 619-440-8236 (p) 619-442-1932 (f) DrB@adhdfraud.com References: 1. Paulesu E, Demonet J-F, Fazio F, McCrory E, Chanoine V, Brunswick N, Cappa SF, Cossu G, Habib M, Frith CD, Frith U. Dyslexia:Cultural Diversity and Biological Unity. Science. 2001; 291:2165-2167. 2. Shaywitz SE, Escobar MD, Shaywitz B, Fletcher JM, Mahuck R. Evidence that Dyslexia May Represent the Lower Tail of a Normal Distribution of Reading Ability. N Engl J Med . 1992; 326:145-150. 3. Zernike K. Reading tests reveal widening literacy gap. New York Times News Service, April 7, 2001.