Dyslexia as Disability

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Dyslexia as Disability

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Title: Dyslexia as Disability
Author: Threlkeld, Aubry D.
Citation: Threlkeld, Aubry D. 2015. Dyslexia as Disability. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Graduate School of Education.
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Abstract: These three qualitative studies describe and analyze how and when young dyslexic people manage disability labels in talk. The theoretical framework informing this study includes post-structuralist approaches to analyzing talk about disability (Tremain, 2002, 2006; Goodley, 2011) and on-going debates about using discourses to model the relationship between impairment, disability and culture inside and outside social model of disability (Hughes & Paterson, 1997; Corker, 1998; Allan, 1999; Shakespeare, 2000; Corker & Shakespeare, 2002; Grue, 2011) and resistance against ableism generally (Gabel & Peters, 2004). The research design involved semi-structured interviews of twenty-six students with dyslexia (Seidman, 2006) who attended a specialized high school and a review of three documentary films. The three articles detail different approaches to the same phenomenon of navigating and describing dyslexia.
The first article engages a primary analysis of how new discourses of the gifted dyslexic brain include persisting notions of a broken brain using Foucauldian discourse analysis (FDA) in educational documentary film. The second study reframes existing studies of conceptual metaphor among dyslexics moving discussion beyond dyslexia as a barrier to a dynamic range of metaphors including dyslexia as a journey, puzzle and even as existence. Contemporary studies of conceptual metaphor and disability continue to reveal how disabled students navigate the differences between impairment and disability. The third article relates long-standing theories of learning differences to the lack of claiming disability among dyslexic students. By exploring passing as able-bodied as a phenomenon, I theorize how schools, even specialized settings, as ableist institutions oppress, silence and foreclose the possibilities of group identity. This research contributes to discursive approaches to understanding dyslexia as disability and connects disabled identities in talk to work with dyslexic students in schools. Suggestions for future research include understanding neurodiversity movements in relationship to learning disabilities, continuing to examine conceptual metaphor use among dyslexics to build out a typology and the political and economic roots of the discourses of learning differently.
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Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:16461049
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