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Learning disabilities that go unnoticed might erode a girl's self-esteem

Updated: Dec 1, 2022

By DiverseMinds Research Team

Reading time 8 minutes

We've long wondered why, in this dyslexia-aware day, females are often ignored. And we feel the key is to understand how dyslexia manifests itself in our children.

While testing revealed no significant difference in the prevalence of reading difficulties between sexes, Dr. Sally Shaywitz, Professor of Paediatric Neurology at Yale University and the founder of The Yale Centre for Dyslexia and Creativity, discovered a clear pattern of schools referring many more boys for assessment in her landmark longitudinal study in Connecticut schools.

The disparity between the number of students identified by researchers as having a diagnosable reading issue and those recognised by schools is an eye-opening example of referral bias. Throughout the investigation, Shaywitz examined this pattern and discovered one apparent issue: inside schools, behavioural issues were the most common reason for referral. Many girls were unnoticed since they didn't make enough noise to be noticed. Further, a recent Georgetown University study examining dyslexia in male and female brain anatomy questions whether testing methods are gender skewed, stating that "models on the brain basis of dyslexia, primarily developed through the study of males, may not be appropriate for females, and suggest a need for more sex-specific testing."

Similarly, underdiagnosis of girls has been to the forefront of the Autism discourse in recent years. Many Autism spectrum females go undiscovered owing to their desire to mimic socially acceptable behaviours while feeling entirely alienated, it is now well recognised. As a culture, we believe that females develop faster than boys, are more inclined to adhere to traditional societal standards, and are less prone to engage in disruptive behaviour when angry or disappointed. In other words, studies have repeatedly proven that dyslexia is significantly more likely to be found and diagnosed in males, rather than a greater incidence of dyslexia. As a result, girls are more likely to be abused. Girls with dyslexia are more prone to experience sadness and/or anxiety as a result of this, which can lead to more significant mental health problems.


Reading and writing difficulties, seeming lethargy, daydreaming, and organisational issues are all common warning signals. In order to cope, girls may overcompensate for their troubles.

Perfectionism: A beautiful piece of homework that took the instructor 30 minutes to complete was meticulously laboured over all evening.

Inconsistency: The appearance does not match the substance. Despite its flawless appearance, the work's substance appears to be poor or disconnected, most likely owing to an overemphasis on neat handwriting and spelling.

Hyper-organization: It compensates for internal instability by over-organizing. Self-imposed stress causes anxiety and wastes hours of unnoticed, exhausting effort.


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