Study finds kids with dyslexia more likely to have suffered childhood physical abuse

by Julien Balbontin -

Researchers at the University of Toronto and the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill conducted a large population-based study, published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, to determine the relationship between dyslexia and childhood physical abuse.

Dr. Esme Fuller-Thomson, professor at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at U of T and the Sandra Rotman endowed chair in social work, and Dr. Stephen R. Hooper, professor at UNC’s Department of Psychiatry and associate director at the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities, hypothesized that those who suffered abuse in the early years of their lives would be more likely to have dyslexia.

The researchers found that 34.8 per cent of respondents who reported childhood physical abuse also reported having dyslexia. They found that adults who had been abused as children were seven times more likely to have dyslexia.

To test their theory, Fuller-Thomson and Hooper assessed data from 13,054 respondents to a 2005 survey of adults from Saskatchewan and Manitoba. According to the study: “The large sample size has allowed for detailed examination of the co-occurrence of two conditions (childhood physical abuse and dyslexia) and provided representative information of this association.”

Dyslexia is a learning disability specific to reading and language processing, and it can cause problems with word recognition, decoding, and spelling.

Although the study does not establish causation or directionality between the presence of dyslexia and childhood physical abuse, it mentions that the presence of dyslexia may increase the risk for children to be physically abused for various reasons including “adult frustrations with chronic learning failure, child frustrations, and increased antagonistic behaviors with caregivers, associated attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and related social-emotional difficulties, poor parent coping mechanisms, or increased neurological vulnerability.”

Read more at Researchers find link between childhood physical abuse and dyslexia.

[Via The Varsity]

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  1. I think this is such a potentially harmful article! I have two children with Dyslexia. I constantly feel blamed for their brains being different then the “average” brain, those who can learn via language…there are other ways to prove intelligence than by being able to read fluently. Dyslexia is a neurobiological difference, a way their brain “is”…I agree in some cases, the abuse may be a result of the parents lack of understanding the disorder, and NO SUPPORT available, causing frustration …I don’t personally hit my children or yell at them because they cant read or test well because of it. But, maybe unlike some others, I have educated myself and understand it would be no different than expecting a blind person to read without braille. Sadly, I am sure in some families these kids are told they are stupid everyday and beaten when they fail! Many of these kids develop problem behaviors in school that cause stress at home. I feel this is as a result of being aware they are completely lost in the classroom and see it as a way out to avoid the shame of others finding out about them (usually showing up in 3rd & 4th) We need to educate everyone, push for awareness and equality and mostly embrace differences and stop labeling & drugging these kids, they are amazing and perfect, not defective in any way! I hope the results of hat study were at least highly conclusive before it was deemed a good thing to publish….We have a big enough hill to climb without adding to it.