The Association Between Childhood Physical Abuse and Dyslexia


A study carried out by researchers at the University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada and the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA to determine the relationship between a history of dyslexia and childhood physical abuse in a large population-based epidemiological sample found that one third (34.8%) of respondents who reported they had been physically abused during their childhood or adolescence also reported being diagnosed with dyslexia in comparison with 7.2% of those who did not report being physically abused.

‘Our data do not allow us to know the direction of the association,’ says Stephen Hooper, professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at University of North Carolina School of Medicine and coauthor of the study. ‘It is possible that for some children, the presence of dyslexia and related learning problems may place them at relatively higher risk for physical abuse, perhaps due to adult frustrations with chronic learning failure. Alternatively, given the known association between brain dysfunction and maltreatment, it could be that the experience of physical abuse may also contribute to and/or exacerbate such learning problems, secondary to increased neurologic burden.’



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Special World, from Inclusive Technology, is a free website linking 125,000 special education teachers, speech therapists and occupational therapists in 150 countries. Special World readers and contributors work with children who have additional needs or special educational needs including those with severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties and disabilities.

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