Dyslexic Students in China: Experiences and Sense-Making from the Perspectives of the Students and Others Around Them



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Dyslexia is a distinctive and persistent learning disability in reading and writing despite average intelligence and adequate education. In China, approximately 15 million students exhibit symptoms of dyslexia (Xinhua News Agency, 2016). In a society with cut-throat education competitions, China’s social awareness and institutional support for dyslexic students are sorely absent. This study examined experiences and sense-making around the dyslexic identity in China, both from the perspectives of dyslexic students and those around them. The Ecology of Human Development (Bronfenbrenner, 1979) served as the theoretical framework for understanding the dynamics that surround the dyslexic students. The project design adopted Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (Smith et al., 2009) through in-depth, semi-structured interviews with three groups of participants. Each group was centered on a Chinese dyslexic student and included their parent as the representative of the student’s microsystem. Through explorations of descriptive and interpretative accounts, this study revealed that the parents took on most of the responsibilities in supporting dyslexic students’ academic and personal development while other aspects of the student’s ecological system failed to provide any assistance. Moreover, the competitive environment fostered a narrow sense of success, causing stress and frustrations for the dyslexic students and their families. Finally, each dyslexic student showed a distinctive relationship with China’s education system based on their family’s socio- economic status and political opinions, demonstrating an intersectionality between dyslexic identity and other factors within the dyslexic student’s ecological system. These findings endeavored to raising awareness about this marginalized group and initiating a discourse on providing support for dyslexic students in China.



dyslexia, Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, The Ecology of Human Development, China