Chinese school children
Chinese school children

BEIJING — China has some 10 million children suffering from dyslexia, with most left to fend for themselves without help from the country's educational or social aid structures.

Chinese magazine Caixin reports this week on a new survey based on 2014 national data that found 11% of Chinese suffer from the disorder, which is caused by problems in the brain's language processing functions.

Guo Fei, assistant researcher at the Institute of Psychology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who participated in the study, said China's rate of dyslexia is similar to that found in the U.S., where recent studies have estimated 10 to 15 % of the population is dyslexic.

Dyslexia, which is not linked to intelligence but rather different impediments to the ability to read and write, is already widely recognized in the West, where educational policies and social organizations to assist affected children are well established. In China, however, dyslexic children often do not receive the help they need, the new report found.

"Affected individuals have no intelligence or motivational defects, nor do they suffer from vision, hearing or neurological disorders," says Bi Hongyan, researcher at the Institute of Psychology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. "It's not an illness in the traditional sense and is not to be treated as a disease."

Caixin noted that the Chinese public education system does not currently provide special textbooks for dyslexic students, and there are fewer than five national organizations dedicated to assisting dyslexic children and their families.

Huang Lanzi, director of Social Enterprise Research Center, an educational institution that helps children who struggle with reading and writing, said that early intervention is the best way to tackle learning difficulties.

"The success rate for primary school children in grade one or grade two is as high as 80% to 90%, which drops to 30% to 40% for those in grade five or grade six," she says. "Unfortunately, most children sent to our center are in the latter grades."

Huang Yongguang, a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, recently submitted a proposal to establish a complete dyslexia screening and correction system, and develop detailed learning strategies to help affected children.

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