New research discovers that adults who have dyslexia are much more likely to report they were physically abused before they turned 18 than their peers without dyslexia.
Researchers at the University of Toronto and the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill found that 35 percent of adults with dyslexia report they were physically abused before they turned 18.
In contrast, seven percent of those without dyslexia reported that they had experienced childhood physical abuse.
“Even after accounting for age, race, sex, and other early adversities such as parental addictions, childhood physical abuse was still associated with a six-fold increase in the odds of dyslexia,” said co-authors Drs. Esme Fuller-Thomson and Sandra Rotman.
In the study, investigators examined a representative sample of 13,054 adults aged 18 and over in the 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey.
This included 1,020 respondents who reported that they had been physically abused during their childhood and 77 who reported that they had been diagnosed by a health professional with dyslexia.
Study results are published online in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence.
“Our data do not allow us to know the direction of the association. It is possible that for some children, the presence of dyslexia and related learning problems may place them at relatively higher risk for physical abuse, perhaps due to adult frustrations with chronic learning failure,” said study co-author Stephen Hooper, Ph.D.
“Alternatively, given the known association between brain dysfunction and maltreatment, it could be that the experience of physical abuse may also contribute to and/or exacerbate such learning problems, secondary to increased neurologic burden.”
Fuller-Thomson said, “Although we do not know if the abuse-dyslexia association is causative, with one-third of adults with dyslexia reporting childhood abuse, it is important that primary health care providers and school-based practitioners working with children with dyslexia screen them for physical abuse.”
Source: University of Toronto