Italy

In Italy there is specific legislation concerning dyslexia. The most recent and complete regulations concerning the condition are contained in the “new rules on specific learning disabilities at school”.

Law 170/2010 recognises dyslexia, dysgraphia, dysorthographia and dyscalculia as specific learning disorders (SLD). Subsequent guidelines (2011) specify educational and didactic measures to support the teaching and learning processes. Schools are also responsible for early detection. In the case of other special educational needs, schools should put in place the pedagogic and didactic measures necessary to guarantee their educational goals, drafting a personalised education plan if necessary. However, it stated that pupils with learning disorders don’t need special teachers, but rather a new way of teaching, according to their needs and abilities. The aim was to shift the focus from a clinical view of SpLDs to a pedagogical view, by empowering all those involved in the education process.

A new pedagogic-didactical category of SEN pupils with “specific developmental disorders” is defined in addition to disabled pupils and pupils with diagnosed specific learning disorders. This new category includes language, nonverbal skills, movement coordination, attention deficits and hyperactivity disorder; whereas, the borderline intellectual functioning can be considered as a border case between disabilities and specific disorders.

Therefore, this area includes the following three sub-categories:

  • ➡️ Disabilities,
  • ➡️ Specific developmental disorders (including specific learning disorders)
  • ➡️ Socio-economic, linguistic and cultural disadvantage.

Moreover, law no. 170/2010 recognised dyslexia, dysgraphia, dysorthography and dyscalculia as specific learning disorders (SLD). SLD are associated to adequate learning abilities, without sensory or neurologic deficit; however, they may seriously limit the pupil’s daily activities.

In particular, dyslexia is a specific disability connected to difficulties in learning to read, in particular in understanding symbols, and in reading fluently and correctly. Dysgraphia is a specific disability in writing associated to difficulties in reproducing graphic symbols; dysorthography is a specific disability in writing associated with difficulties in linguistic processes of trans-codification; and dyscalculia is a specific disability associated to difficulties in making calculations and in elaborating numbers.

The word dyslexia was first introduced in the 1960s; before then, no scientific work on dyslexia had appeared in Italian scientific journals. In 1981 the book “Mio figlio non sa leggere” by U. Pirro was published and, at the beginning of the 1990s, the works by C. Cornoldi (I disturbi dell’apprendimento, 1991) and G. Sabbadini (Manuale di Neuropsicologia dell’età evolutiva, 1995) appeared.

The first Italian Dyslexia association, the “Associazione Italiana Dislessia” (AID), was founded in 1997 followed by many other associations that were mostly founded between 2000 and 2010.

The official and most widely adopted definition of Specific Learning Disabilities and Dyslexia comes from the Consensus Conference that was held in Rome in June 2011. In this Consensus Conference it was established that Specific Learning Disabilities include:

• Dyslexia: Specific Learning Disability related to decoding of written text
• Dysorthographia: a specific writing disorder relaing to a difficulty with phonographic encoding and orthography / spelling
• Dysgraphia: disorder related to the fine motor skills of handwriting
• Dyscalculia: disorder related to arithmetical skills, i.e. the ability to understand and manipulate numbers.

For the above definitions, reference is made to the International Classification of Diseases, ICD-10, of the World Health Organization.

Dyslexia is seen as a specific learning disorder (or disturbance).
Specific, because it concerns specific skills, rather than the whole of a person’s intelligence.
✅ It involves learning skills involved with phonological processing, motor coordination, and mathematical calculations.
✅ And it’s a disturbance (or disorder) because it isn’t an illness.

Regulations also require that in order to get a diagnosis of dyslexia, the following recent documentation must be provided:

➡️ Assessment of cognitive abilities certifying that the individual’s IQ is not below average (for example through WISC-III/IV; Leiter International Performance Scale – Revised (Leiter-R); Coloured Progressive Matrices (CPM)).
➡️ Certification, obtained through standardised and validated tests, excluding the presence of neurological, cognitive or sensorial pathologies, as well as other psychopathological disorders.
➡️ Assessment of the following parameters:

⏩ For dyslexia: reading speed (for words, non-words, text), accuracy of reading (for words, non-words, text).
⏩ For dysorthographia: accuracy in orthography (for words, non-words, homophones (words that have the same sound shape) and text).
⏩ For dysgraphia: fluency of writing, quality of handwriting, pen hand grip and posture of the individual while seated.
⏩ For dyscalculia: speed and correctness of the components of numeric cognition, executive procedures, and calculation abilities.

Tressoldi, Stella and Faggella (2001) found that dyslexic Italian readers have excellent reading-accuracy, but reading speed increased by only 0.3 syllables per second per grade, a growth rate approximately half that of typical-progress readers, and equivalent to typical-progress readers’ rates for reading lists of pseudowords. There are several tests to measure the parameters of dyslexia, but n order for the assessment to be used to obtain a diagnosis, all the tests used must be standardised and validated by “the scientific community”.

Dyslexia is said to affect about 4% of the school population in Italy.

Dyslexia is said to affect about 4% of the school population in Italy.

See for instance:
>>slideshare.net/makarono/italy-specific-learning-disorders-in-english
>>veladislessia.it/strumenti/riferimenti-legislativi.html
>>european-agency.org/country-information/italy/systems-of-support-and-specialist-provision
>>european-agency.org/country-information/italy/legislation-and-policy
>>veladislessia.it/strumenti/riferimenti-legislativi.html
>>mlking.gov.it/printpdf/bes-bisogni-educativi-speciali
>>uni-frankfurt.de/53397339/Inclusion-Italy.pdf
>>eacea.ec.europa.eu/national-policies/eurydice/content/special-education-needs-provision-within-mainstream-education-33_en
>>tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08856257.2015.1060075?scroll=top&needAccess=true&journalCode=rejs20
>>airipa.it/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/DyslItalian09.pdf
>>dyscovery.research.southwales.ac.uk/media/files/documents/2014-01-16/Module_3.pdf
>>researchgate.net/publication/8212826_The_Development_of_Reading_Speed_in_Italians_with_Dyslexia_A_Longitudinal_Study
>>pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15503590/
>>academia.edu/33651025/The_Galletly_Report_Reading_accuracy_development_difficulties_and_instruction_in_Australia