Neil Alexander-Passe (2015) Dyslexia and mental health. London, Jessica Kingsley Publishers
This book was launched at the BDA International Conference in March 2016, and is a really welcome addition to literature on understanding cognitive and behavioural aspects of dyslexia, from someone who is dyslexic himself and has extensive experience in a learning support role. It is pioneering in bringing these two topics together so thoroughly.
From my professional observations, the main links between dyslexia and mental health are three-fold:
• People who experience mental ill health as a consequence of the frustrating aspects of dyslexia, sometimes following a late diagnosis of dyslexia in adulthood;
• People who have a pre-existing diagnosis of mental ill health, apparently separate from dyslexia, but possibly exacerbated by finding out about dyslexia;
• Dyslexia and mental ill health as co-occurring cognitive experiences (the unfortunately named ‘co-morbidity’ factor), which may or may not have a similar aetiology.
Alexander-Passe definitely covers the first of these aspects and tangentially the second; the third possibility is largely unexplored at present. Researchers are finally exploring dyslexia in its wider manifestation (not just a reading difficulty), but mental health is so complex, it is hard to imagine a study that could establish a causal link between this and dyslexia.
Dyslexia and mental health begins by seeking to define dyslexia; a thankless task, such is the range of views from research. It is necessary, however, in order to brief the reader who comes from a background of knowledge about mental illness, wanting to find out about dyslexia. Alexander-Passe redeems a rather negative coverage of dyslexic difficulties in the body of chapters 1 and 2 in his key messages at the end of each, highlighting his own more positive views of dyslexia as a difference not a disability. He takes this further in chapter 4 when discussing the need for the “transformation” of negative perceptions (p.95), through working on difficulties and celebrating strengths.
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On Monday, 7th January 2013, there was a programme on Channel 5 at 10pm about how Shane Lynch (previously of Boyzone fame) copes with dyslexia.One Comment »