[AAACE-NLA] Genetic vs. developed "LDs"
tesolmichael at yahoo.com
Sat May 22 19:14:55 EDT 2010
Hello Hugo and all,
I believe the most crucial point you make concerns the immutability (for now at least) of one's genetic makeup. The attribution of geneticity (?) is indeed frighteningly final. As you know from numerous discussions here and elsewhere, many of the mental, physical, and affective behaviors and dispositions we have given fancy-sounding names or acronyms to are being either de jure or de facto treated as (if) genetic.
I cannot but agree that we have to tread very carefully given the little we know, much less in fact that some of us are led or inclined to believe.
Michael A. Gyori
Maui International Language School
From: "HKerr at aol.com" <HKerr at aol.com>
To: aaace-nla at lists.literacytent.org
Sent: Fri, May 21, 2010 10:34:55 AM
Subject: Re: [AAACE-NLA] Genetic vs. developed "LDs"
You ask three questions. I would like to offer answers as follows:
1. When would you say LD is genetic, such that no imaginable intervention will produce results?
We should be sceptical, or at the very least careful. (It’s a moral duty.) To attribute something to ‘the genes’ is to say something very definite, very powerful. We should be absolutely, utterly sure of our facts first, because a ‘genetic’ deficit is an innate, and permanent one. Such a ‘diagnosis’, or attribution, is deeply negative and profoundly disheartening. It is maladaptive. It tends absolutely to imply that ‘no imaginable intervention will produce results’.
And the fact is that (if we are talking about dyslexia) the condition itself, and its genetic basis, remain controversial. A much fuller, and better, exposition of these ideas is in chapter eight of my online book on the website below. Genetics is a fearsomely complicated area, very new and very fluid, and we are often guilty of very casual use of its apparent results. Findings are very much open to abuse. The ‘dyslexia literature’ often makes wild claims on small and shaky evidence.
2. Does it really matter?
Yes. Lack of scepticism (or gullibility) always does, but maladaptive attributions do too, very much. A ‘diagnosis’ of a ‘disability’ is a maladaptive attribution if not based on truth. It will, if accepted, have a large (and rather obvious) effect on affect, and poor or negative affect very powerfully influence learning and performance, IMO.
3. Is the distinction meaningful or useful?
Yes, and no. A ‘diagnosis’ takes our eyes off the ball. It is too convenient. We end up blaming the victim, or at any rate the victim’s nervous system. We oversimplify and reduce. Fragment a holistic complexity into simplistic parts. There are so many reasons for poor literacy, and for ‘odd’ behaviours around literacy. People, and their histories, are so complicated. If we opt for ‘diagnosis’ of a simple ‘deficit’ early on, we will probably get a positive result and then we will stop looking for alternative explanations. If we don’t look, we won’t see them. The ‘diagnosis’ will greatly impoverish, or absolutely block, our observation and our thinking, bypass our common sense. So the distinction you pose has a meaning, but it is not useful, indeed it can be positively (but rather subtly) harmful.
"We're here to help each other get through this thing - whatever it might be." (Kurt Vonnegut)
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