Information on House Resolution 456 and H.Res. 623
In response to many requests, Drs. Sally & Bennett Shaywitz review the differences between H. Res. 456 and H. Res. 623
We have been receiving a great many inquiries asking for information about two Congressional resolutions: H.Res. 456 and H.Res. 623. The questions range: “Why two resolutions?” or “Do they have the same or different purposes?” People concerned with improving the lives of children who are dyslexic—especially in terms of diagnosing and providing effective interventions in schools—asked, “Are one or both resolutions specifically focused on dyslexia and on targeting these school goals?” Responding to these queries, with the help of several of you who have contacted us, we reviewed the resolutions and below, share the facts with you.
In January 2014, Rep. Bill Cassidy introduced House Resolution 456, which focuses directly on the scientific basis of dyslexia and its educational implications:
“Resolution 456 goes directly to the greatest need for action: asking schools to recognize and address the educational implications of dyslexia.”
“Calling on schools and State and local educational agencies to recognize that dyslexia has significant educational implications that must be addressed.”
Resolution 456 goes directly to the greatest need for action: asking schools to recognize and address the educational implications of dyslexia.
Resolution 456 provides the scientifically-accepted definition of dyslexia, including:
- it is an unexpected difficulty,
- the scientific basis and basic difficulty and its resulting symptoms,
- its paradoxical nature—the same person who may be a slow reader, may also think and reason extremely well.
This component of the Resolution helps to ensure that dyslexia is understood and that bright, yet struggling, dyslexic children are not overlooked, but diagnosed and receive evidence-based interventions by schools.
In Resolution 456’s words:
Whereas diagnosis of dyslexia is critical, and must lead to focused, evidence-based interventions, necessary accommodations, and self-awareness, self-empowerment, and school and life success: Now, therefore, be it Resolved,that the House of Representatives calls on schools and state and local educational agencies to recognize that dyslexia has significant educational implications that must be addressed.
In summary, Resolution 456 is focused directly on the educational needs of children who are dyslexic, and calls for schools, states, and educational agencies to take action to recognize and address the significant educational implications of dyslexia. In addition, this resolution addresses the paradox of dyslexia—that dyslexia is an unexpected difficulty, and as such, children who are dyslexic may have weakness in reading and spelling, along with strengths in higher-level cognitive thinking.
“Dyslexic children need advocacy and lumping them together with all learning disabilities may rob them of the rights to the services they need.”
House Resolution 623 was presented by Rep. Joyce Beatty in June 2014.
This resolution mentions dyslexia, but appears to be much more general, rather than specific to dyslexia. For example, learning disabilities are noted frequently and comments made in the resolution seem to be more aligned with the more general term, “learning disabilities,” than with dyslexia. For example, the Resolution begins:
“Recognizing the importance of dyslexia and other specific learning disabilities and promoting research, education, and awareness.”
It goes on to note symptoms, for example, “the imperfect ability to…think…” which does not at all apply to dyslexia, and could even be harmful to those who are dyslexic. Dyslexics have a reading impairment, not a thinking impairment. This is one reason why it is important to differentiate dyslexia from the general and more heterogeneous “learning disabilities.”
H.Res. 623 appears in some instance to have copied the exact wording from H.Res. 456, but substituted the phrase, “learning and attention deficient issues,” where Resolution 456 specifically notes “dyslexia,” for example:
Whereas great progress has been made in understanding dyslexia at a scientific level, including its epidemiology, and cognitive and neurobiological bases…
Whereas great progress has been made in understanding learning and attention deficient issues at a scientific level, including their epidemiology, cognitive and neurobiological bases…
So, basically, what Resolution 623 has done is remove the word dyslexia and replace it with the nonspecific phrase, learning and attention deficient issues.
Examining the conclusions of each Resolution sums up very nicely what each is about:
Resolution 456 is focused on dyslexia, and is a clear call for action by schools and State and local education agencies on behalf of children who are dyslexic:
“be it Resolved, that the House of Representatives calls on schools and State and local educational agencies to recognize that dyslexia has significant educational implications that must be addressed.”
The closing statement of Resolution 623 appears to focus on congratulating organizations, rather than calling for action by schools to address the educational needs of children who are dyslexic:
“(That the House of Representatives…) commends the excellent work of organizations dedicated to dyslexia research to educate, support, and provide hope for people with dyslexia and their families.”
“Dyslexia can be compared to strep throat, whereby the specific symptoms, cause, and treatment have all been scientifically uncovered so that a specific diagnosis can be made, and specific, evidence-based intervention can be given.
The term, “learning disabilities” is more like the general term “infection,” which can have many different causes, along with many different symptoms and differing treatments, depending on the specific infection.”
In summary, these two resolutions are quite different in meaningful and important ways, and in their potential positive impact on children who are dyslexic.
Dyslexia is highly specific; scientific progress has revealed its epidemiology, cognitive, and neurobiological bases.
“Learning disabilities” is nonspecific, and more of a general term to encompass a range of difficulties; in just about all cases, the specific characteristics noted above are yet to be uncovered and scientifically understood.
For example, in medicine, dyslexia can be compared to strep throat, whereby the specific symptoms, cause, and treatment have all been scientifically uncovered so that a specific diagnosis can be made, and specific, evidence-based intervention can be given.
The term, “learning disabilities” is more like the general term “infection,” which can have many different causes, along with many different symptoms and differing treatments, depending on the specific infection. Hopefully in the near future, scientific progress will permit the various entities making up the term “learning disabilities” to be scientifically identified and validated so that their epidemiological, cognitive, and neurobiological bases are known, along with the specific symptoms and treatments for each. Until that time, dyslexia, where science has uncovered each of these bases, should not be ignored, nor fail to be addressed. In the case of diagnosing and remediating dyslexia, rather than a knowledge gap, there is an action gap, which Resolution 456 recognizes, and calls for action on the scientific progress that has been made in dyslexia.
“The focus of Resolution 456 is entirely on dyslexia and action oriented; it specifically calls for action, stating that the educational implications of dyslexia must be addressed. H.Res. 623 is very general and does not call for actions by schools.”
The focus of Resolution 456 is entirely on dyslexia and action oriented; it specifically calls for action, stating that the educational implications of dyslexia must be addressed.
In contrast, Resolution 623 is primarily focused on “learning and attention deficiencies” and is very general, nonspecific, and non-action oriented. H.Res. 623 congratulates organizations and recognizes “the importance of conducting research, education, and awareness of dyslexia and other specific learning disabilities.” It does not call for actions by schools.
-Drs. Sally & Bennett Shaywitz
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