One of the problems with using the case study approach to any issue has been in deciding how ‘typical’ or ‘representative’ the case studies described are. As was discussed in Chapter 3 this is especially difficult in the case of dyslexia or specific learning difficulties because in many areas identification is still patchy and variable in nature. This means that a representative sample of all the children in a given population with dyslexia is almost impossible to obtain as not all children are identified. It has to be borne in mind that identification in a loose sense is not an all or nothing phenomenon. Teachers, like parents, may think that something is wrong and offer some level of support even though they don’t recognise the child as having specific learning difficulties. In looking at the case studies presented by the likes of Osmond, Van der Stoel, Miles and Edwards it is easy for the unconvinced in particular to say ‘Yes, but aren’t these exceptional cases? Perhaps these children are particularly vulnerable, or particularly severe or particularly unlucky in the experiences they’ve encountered.’ These are valid points but the sheer weight of case studies reporting similar experiences makes it hard to consign them all to the category of exceptional cases. In reality we do need to know more about the range of experiences that dyslexic children encounter and the range of responses that they make to these experiences. The present study, although still open to criticism of sampling bias, tried to go some way to addressing this problem by selecting a representative sample of children who attended the Dyslexia Institute. It can still be claimed that these children are not representative of dyslexic children in general but given that they were selected from 80 children attending over 70 different schools in six different local authority areas they do represent a wide range of experiences and degrees of difficulty. These children may well be typical of the dyslexic children who are recognised by either the school or their parents as having a specific problem, but the sample excludes an unknown proportion of children whose parents cannot afford private tuition or whose problems go unrecognised. A particular aim of this study was to look at a group of children whose parents had explicitly chosen to understand their children’s difficulties in terms of the label ‘dyslexia’ and had chosen to seek extra support outside the school system for their children. The three case studies looked at in more detail were again picked not to show exceptional or extreme responses, but merely to flesh

out the range of experiences that children and their families came across. If anything, in presenting two of three case studies that have had good outcomes so far, these represent the positive end of the spectrum of children interviewed and don’t dwell on the more negative experiences of many of the children. Some of the comments made have already been quoted in other chapters but are included here when they are an important part of a wider picture or part of an ongoing thread or theme running through an interview. These are shortened extracts from the full interviews.