Ever since the passing the Public Law 49-142 in 1975 the schools have used the excuse of dyslexia is a medical diagnosis. This is blatantly incorrect in several ways.

Dyslexia is not diagnosed by people who have a M.D. after their name, and is not treatable within their purview of practice. This is not to say that doctors aren’t asked about or suggest to parents that they investigate dyslexia for their child, but is patently incorrect that an M.D. would provide a dyslexia diagnosis.

Now it could be that schools are mistakenly assuming that a diagnosis from a psychologist or neuropsychologist is a medical diagnosis, which is also not true. The diagnostic manual or DSM5 for psychologists is published by the American Psychological Association and not the American Medical Association. This manual is used by medical professionals for diagnosis of some conditions, but many others are left to other professions like dyslexia.

The DSM5 is also the diagnostic manual which describes other neurologically diverse problems like autism, attention deficit, and turrets syndrome. When these conditions are presented through a psychological report,  schools don’t off handedly reject them as a medical diagnoses. Why is that? How can dyslexia be treated differently?

Finally it is interesting that dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia were paramount in the development of the categorical eligibility under the IDEA known as Specific Learning Disability. Which some see as an umbrella term to reflect these more specific conditions (and others), which also lend themselves to specialized and research based educational, behavioral, and social practices for treatment and remediation of the conditions.

A medical diagnosis presumes that a medical treatment is to be prescribed and monitored by an M.D. In the case of dyslexia this not the case, and would be tacitly inappropriate as the literature has well defined the best plan is educational in nature and not medical.