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Adult Perceptions of Children with Dyslexia and Intellectual Disability in the US


This study examined adult perceptions of two developmental disabilities: dyslexia (DYX) and Intellectual Disability (ID). Participants (n=1258) recruited through Mechanical Turk answered survey questions pertaining to symptoms, views, and possible causes of DYX and ID compared with obesity (OB) as a comparison condition. Exploratory factor analysis revealed 5 distinct factors across all three conditions: (1) psychosocial causes, (2) external causes, (3) biological causes, (4) consequence, and (5) controllability. Ethnic, gender and parental status (parent or nonparent) differences towards DYX and ID perceptions were examined. Three-way ANOVAs indicated effects of ethnicity, gender, and parental status on perceptions. Males endorsed psychosocial and external causes more often than females. Those who self-identified as Asian viewed DYX and ID as more highly controllable in comparison to Whites. Additionally, results revealed a three-way interaction regarding controllability, which suggests that Asian fathers and Hispanic mothers more often believe that a child with DYX can control his/her condition. Understanding the public’s perceptions about developmental disorders helps distinguish accurate from erroneous beliefs. Furthermore, understanding differences that may exist in particular groups can help implement targeted actions to improve awareness, care, and interventions for families.

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