THE term 'dyslexia' should be abandoned as it lacks scientific rigour, according to a new book co-authored by a North-East academic.
The authors, from Durham and Yale universities, say that valuable resources are poured into expensive and time-consuming diagnostic tests which are often highly questionable.
They suggest the key task for professionals is to spot reading difficulties early in any child and intervene as quickly as possible rather than search for a questionable diagnosis.
The book, The Dyslexia Debate, out on March 1 2014, shows that teaching approaches to help children who are deemed to be poor readers are no different from those who have been labelled dyslexic.
Although the researchers do not question the existence of underlying problems that those with complex reading difficulties typically experience, they are critical of dyslexia as a term often used to describe a wide range of problems, of varying degrees of severity.
The book concludes that it has proved impossible to identify a dyslexic sub-group that is scientifically justifiable and which has value for practitioners. The authors suggest that the term as it is widely used by teachers, clinicians and the lay public, has become meaningless.
Co-author, Julian Elliott, a former teacher of children with learning difficulties and educational psychologist, and currently Professor of Education at Durham University, said: "Parents are being woefully misled about the value of a dyslexia diagnosis.
"Typically, we search for a diagnostic label when we encounter problems because we believe that this will point to the best form of treatment. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that the parents and teachers of children with reading difficulties believe that if the child is diagnosed as dyslexic, clear ways to help them will result.
"Research in this field clearly demonstrates that this is a grave misunderstanding."
The book, published by Cambridge University Press, is the result of five years of research.