I’m going to start with the bottom line: Measure of dyslexia and IQ diverge over time. In non-struggling readers, the interaction between IQ and reading ability essentially remains stable during your lifetime. For struggling readers (our dyslexic folks), there is a widening gap over time where IQ remains stable but reading skills tend to fall off significantly.
We know that most dyslexic people are average to above average in intelligence. However, it becomes very easy to assume that a person is not smart if they struggle with reading.
It happens to our dyslexic children every day. It can be so incredibly confusing and painful for young children to feel like a failure day in and day out because of their struggles in school.
“I know I’m not stupid or at least I think so but why can’t I read?” This is such a common refrain that I hear all the time. This is a perfect example of what happens when we don’t educate our teachers and parents about what dyslexia is and isn’t. If we are not armed with correct information, our children suffer.
The research is clear. In one seminal study in 2011 by Hiroko Tanaka, et. al. (see link below) the researchers used fMRI (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) to show that there was reduced activity in brain regions including left parieto-temporal and occipito-temporal regions for struggling readers regardless of IQ. In other words, we have been able to use fMRI tools to cooborate what we’ve been seeing in our behavioral studies for quite some time. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4380286/?_escaped_fragment_=po=11.1940
I go in much greater depth regarding the neuroscience research in my Dyslexia Training Program. Here, though, a key takeaway is that understanding the dynamic relationship between IQ and dyslexia plays a very important role in giving us the tools to nurture and support the social and emotional development of our struggling readers. We can explain to our kids that their struggles in reading is not because they are “stupid” it’s about how some peoples’ brains are wired. And it is the adults’ responsibility to provide the support and guidance to help students learn in the way they learn best.
Please remember that this is a global issue and we all can play a part in improving literacy worldwide.