From Deficit Remediation to Capacity Building: Learning to Enable Rather Than Disable Students With Dyslexia

Lang Speech Hear Serv Sch. 2018 Oct 24;49(4):864-874. doi: 10.1044/2018_LSHSS-DYSLC-18-0031.


Purpose: In this article, we explore the deficit view of dyslexia and consider how it may narrow research so as to hamper the progress of scientific discovery and constrain best practices to the detriment of the overall well-being and growth of students with dyslexia. We consider the neurodiversity view of dyslexia as an alternative to the deficit view and explore how strengths-based approaches such as Universal Design for Learning can be used to support the overall well-being and development of students with dyslexia. Practical strategies are provided for applying a strengths-based approach in the speech-language pathologist setting to support students with dyslexia.

Method: We completed a focused literature review of the history of the deficit view of dyslexia, the alternate neurodiversity view, exceptional abilities related to dyslexia, and strategies for Universal Design for Learning.

Results: Although the research literature that deals with visual-spatial affordances associated with dyslexia is limited, there is significant evidence that a strengths-based approach to learning experience design can be leveraged by practitioners to improve student self-development, motivation, and academic outcomes.

Conclusion: We find that further research is needed to explore strengths associated with dyslexia and argue that a shift in mindset from the deficit view toward the neurodiversity view is required to build the capacity of students with dyslexia to thrive in learning and life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Dyslexia / psychology
  • Dyslexia / rehabilitation*
  • Humans
  • Language Therapy / methods*
  • Power, Psychological*
  • Problem-Based Learning
  • Self Efficacy*