Dyslexia is defined in recent federal legislation as an unexpected difficulty in reading for an individual who has the intelligence to be a much better reader. Despite its high prevalence (20%), there have been few studies of the experience and outcome of dyslexic students at selective 4-year colleges. We examined academic and social experiences in college and outcome in the workplace 5 or more years after graduation in Yale graduates with dyslexia compared with a matched group of Yale graduates who were typical readers. Dyslexic college graduates did not differ from typical graduates in college and the workplace. Parents of dyslexic children often ask about their child’s future. These findings should reassure those professionals (including pediatric neuropsychologists, school psychologists and pediatricians) that dyslexic students can be successful in school and go on to succeed and thrive at selective colleges.
Dyslexia is the most common neurobehavioral disorder in children and young adults, affecting 20% of the population (Ferrer et al. 2015). It was first described in the late nineteenth century (Morgan 1896) as an unexpected difficulty in reading. Now, a century later, in the most up-to-date definition, codified in Public Law No: 115–391 (First Step Act 2018), dyslexia continues to be defined as “an unexpected difficulty in reading for an individual who has the intelligence to be a much better reader, most commonly caused by a difficulty in the phonological processing (the appreciation of the individual sounds of spoken language), which affects the ability of an individual to speak, read, and spell,” a definition empirically supported (Ferrer et al. 2010).
Pediatric neuropsychologists, school psychologists, pediatricians, and other professionals are often consulted by parents concerned about their dyslexic children not only in the kindergarten to 12th grade years but worried about their futures after high school, for example, college admissions and career possibilities. Much of this worry can be traced back to the well-founded knowledge that dyslexic readers typically are not automatic readers, but rather are slow readers. Unfortunately, this has led to the belief that dyslexics are slow thinkers and not very bright. Common concerns shared by many including college and university admissions officers tasked with admitting dyslexic students include the following: How they will do? Can dyslexic students manage the work load? Will they be successful following graduation? Despite its high prevalence there have been few studies of the experience and outcome of dyslexic students at selective 4-year colleges. Furthermore, previous studies of performance of dyslexic students in college and their subsequent experience in the workplace following graduation have confounded dyslexia with the broad, non-specific category of learning disabilities. This study was designed to address these previous limitations.
We hypothesized that dyslexic college students admitted to a selective college would do well academically and socially and would be successful following graduation.
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