THE BEGINNING OF THE PARTICIPANTS’ DYSLEXIA JOURNEY

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THEORETICAL FRAMEWORKS

Theory is found in all qualitative studies and plays a vital role in achieving the aims of the study. Bearing this in mind, Schram (2006) emphasised that the theoretical and conceptual frameworks in a study must be selected with care as they enable the researcher to position the study within an established sphere of ideas. It is however, important to validate the selected frameworks’ significance or relevance to the study.
A theoretical framework is an existing “blueprint” used to base and build the research inquiry, whilst the conceptual framework assists with the construction of the researcher’s view of the value of investigating the phenomenon, thereby validating the worth of the study (Adom, Hussein & Adu-Agyem (2018, p.438). Bloomberg and Volpe (2016) state that whilst both frameworks place the study in an academic context and provide the lens used for viewing the study, the theoretical framework provides the scaffolding that guides all aspects of the study, whilst the conceptual framework supports the study by providing the personal meaning or implications that the research answers have on the study participants.
Marshall and Rossman (2016) state that the theoretical framework should be based on a solid rationale that will show that the current study is based on something specific, that is linked to a large phenomenon or a larger theoretical construct and thereby reflect how the study serves to illuminate these larger issues. Maxwell (2013, p.40) positions the research question as part of the conceptual framework in that it identifies “something that is going on in the world” as well as justifies why the study is important. The conceptual framework therefore provides the researcher with a system or platform within which the research questions will be framed and it is used for categorising the data collected (Bloomberg & Volpe, 2016).
In selecting the frameworks for this study, the researcher was mindful of the aim of the study, which was to describe the experiences of those diagnosed with dyslexia and to gain a description of what it is to live with the label of dyslexia. People do not live in isolation; therefore, many external factors impact on intrinsic factors, and play a role in the dyslexic person’s experiences of living with the label of dyslexia. This view is alluded to in Gibbs and Elliott (2015) where they state that whilst there is an obvious biological component in most instances of literacy challenges, the important relationship that individuals have with their environment is often overlooked. This environment is viewed by Solvang (2007) as the parents, educators, educational authorities and dyslexic organisations, who are the social actors that construct the social meaning of dyslexia. Conn (2016) provides an example of this within the school system. Here the label interacts with the entire school ecology comprised of the entire education system that learners finds themselves in, the pedagogical considerations experienced, the school structure, educators on a personal and teaching level, the curriculum and peers. Therefore each persons’ lived experiences of their environments is unique because of their personal attributes and the way in which they interact with their environment (Leitão et al., 2017).
Taking cognisance of these views, the aim guiding the selection of the theoretical framework and conceptual framework for this study, was to encompass the world in which these persons live, and to place these individuals in the centre of their world. Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory (1979) is selected as relevant to guide the theoretical framework of this study and provide the systems that surround these individuals. This theory is used in conjunction with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs with both theoretical frameworks being combined to form the conceptual framework of the study. The conceptual framework is then used to describe and capture what life is like to live with the label of dyslexia and to discover if dyslexic individuals’ needs are being fulfilled by the label. Implementing these frameworks allows a deep understanding of the influence and effects that the world has on labelled individuals.

Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory

The Ecological Systems Theory (EST) was founded by Urie Bronfenbrenner (1917-2005), a world-famous theorist revered for his contribution to the field of developmental psychology. Today his theory is one of the most widely known and used theoretical frameworks in various disciplines and field of social sciences (Vélez-Agosto, Soto-Crespo, Vizcarrondo-Oppenheimer, Vega-Molina & García Coll, 2017). Present day world-wide use of this theory is found in major organisations including the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF who use it in their social programmes as well as in research (Vélez-Agosto et. al., 2017).
Bronfenbrenner based his theory on the premise that human life-span development does not occur in isolation, but within multiple environments ranging from immediate to extended, therefore, an understanding of human development can only occur if the entire ecological system in which growth occurs is looked at (Bronfenbrenner, 1994). He referred to the environments that surround individuals as ecological systems. He initially called his theory an ecological systems theory, which comprised of three layers or systems with the child in the centre, surrounded by the upper layer or immediate settings such as the home, school, and so on, and the third outer or supportive layer that determined what happened in the inner layers (Bronfenbrenner, 1994). In 1977, he extended the theory to include five systems and renamed it the ‘bioecological systems theory’ to emphasise the role played by the child’s intrinsic biology as the primary environment that shapes development (Paquette & Ryan, 2011). However, the first name given to this theory is still widely used today.
The interaction between the factors in a environment such as the family, school and communities guides and steers a person’s development and that interaction in turn between these subsystems, can affect each other (Bronfenbrenner, 1994). This theory is therefore a scientific approach that places emphasis on the interrelationship of the various systems surrounding the child and an approach that notes contextual variation (Darling, 2007). This contextual variation contributes differently to the effects and influences on both the development and behaviour of the child (Schram, 2006). It stresses that development is affected by the quality and context of the systems surrounding the child (Harkonen, 2007). Bronfenbrenner named two environmental conditions essential for positive human development and growth, namely that adults closest to the child must show unconditional love, and that they must encourage the child as well as spend quality time with the child both in and out of the home (Boemmel & Briscoe, 2001). He was of the firm view that insight and understanding into the direct and indirect influences in a child’s life and development could only be gained by looking at the different levels of the environment that surround the child, and noting the impact that it has on each of these.
The characteristics and development of the child and the reactions of others within their social context are viewed as interactional (Paquette & Ryan, 2001). The various systems influence and affect each other in a bidirectional manner, forming a network of effects that are interdependent, therefore children are both products, as well as producers, of their environment (Berk, 2009). To gain an understanding of human development, systematic information about the context that surrounds the child and the processes through which development occurs has to be noted, as failure to do so produces a flawed understanding of such development, because of it being out of context (Jaeger, 2012). The influences of the various systems include economic and political structures that are part of the life course of children throughout their lives, and are important components in shaping development. Realisation of the influence that the various systems have on children’s development, has led to Bronfenbrenner’s theory influencing the way in which psychologists approach the study of human development and their environments (Rajput, 2012).
Bronfenbrenner depicted his ecological environment as a “set of nested structures, each inside the next, like a set of Russian dolls” (Bronfenbrenner, 1979, p.1). The model is often depicted as concentric circles, where each circle has a bidirectional influence on the circles inside it and a bidirectional influence on the structures within each circle (Bronfenbrenner, 1994). Boemmel and Briscoe (2001) referred to the influence as a ripple effect that takes places within the systems. Bronfenbrenner initially identified four structures or systems in which maturation and development occurs, starting from the child in the centre, namely the microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem and macrosystem and later added a fifth system namely the chronosystem which is based on time (Harkonen, 2007). Darling (2007, p.203) aptly refers to EST as one that “places the person in the centre of the circles”. With the person in the centre, the continuous interaction between the factors in an environment such as the family, school and communities guides and steers a person’s development, and interaction in turn between these subsystems can affect or influence each other (Bronfenbrenner, 1994). Figure 3.1 depicts four of the five systems forming the EST and shows the role players found in these systems. This figure has been adapted to depict the macrosystem that is relevant to SA individuals

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Microsystem

The microsystem depicted in Figure 3.1 is referred to as the inner level and is therefore “the immediate setting containing the developing person” and is comprised of the child and the relationships with those who are closest, for example parents, siblings and possibly caregivers (Bronfenbrenner, 1979, p.1). Persons in this system have their child’s distinctive physical, social and symbolic characteristics (Bronfenbrenner, 1994), which includes temperament, personality and their own system of beliefs (Harkonen, 2007). Bronfenbrenner was of the view that because continuous close face-to-face contact with persons in this system occurs, the child is constantly shaped by interactions herein, including the way in which the child perceives these interactions. Such interactions are perceived to be responsible for shaping the psychological growth of the developing child (Bronfenbrenner, 1979). Watling, Neal and Neal (2013) provide examples of such interactions which include family meals eaten together, mum reading to their child and playing with siblings.
Interactions must be viewed as bidirectional where it is not only adults who affect the developing child, but also biological characteristics such as personalities of the developing child that can affect the behaviour of adults towards them (Berk, 2009). Berk provides an example validating this where she states that a child who is friendly and easy to handle evokes positive responses from adults, whereas a difficult child evokes negative responses such as scolding and punishment. Paquette and Ryan (2001) provide an example of the bidirectional interactions wherein they state that the beliefs and feelings of parents and children affect each other positively or negatively, and it is a relationship where encouragement or discouragement is shown and experienced. In this study, focus in the microsystem is directed at individuals who are the persons diagnosed with dyslexia and hence living with the label. Particular focus is placed on their life relationships and experiences with their parents, caregivers, siblings, peers, teachers, principals, educational institutions and workplaces, based on them having dyslexia. Support from those in the microsystem should encourage positive interactions and experiences.

Table of contents :

DECLARATION
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
DEDICATION
ABSTRACT
KEY TERMS:
ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMNS
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND OVERVIEW OF THE CHAPTER
1.1 INTRODUCTION
1.2 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
1.3 RATIONALE FOR THE STUDY
1.4 DYSLEXIA
1.4.1 Diagnosing of Dyslexia
1.4.2 Labelling
1.4.3 View of Adults towards Labelling
1.4.4 Views of Parents whose Children have Dyslexia
1.4.5 Views of Teachers
1.4.6 Educational Institutions Views
1.4.7 Theoretical Models influencing Dyslexia
1.5 SITUATING THIS STUDY
1.6 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.7 PURPOSE OF THE RESEARCH
1.7.1 Primary Aim
1.7.2 Specific Aims
1.8 THEORETICAL ORIENTATION OF THIS STUDY
1.9 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY AND DESIGN
1.9.1 Sampling
1.9.2 Instrumentation and data collection techniques
1.9.3 Data analysis and interpretation
1.9.4 Credibility and Trustworthiness
1.9.5 Research Ethics
1.10 DEFINITION OF KEY CONCEPTS
1.10.1 Literacy
1.10.2 Labelling
1.10.3 Learning Disabilities
1.10.4 Special education in South Africa
1.10.5 Special needs schools
1.11 CHAPTER OUTLINE
CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW OVERVIEW OF THE CHAPTER
2.1 INTRODUCTION
2.2 SOUTH AFRICAN EDUCATION
2.2.1 Education Pre-1994
2.2.2 Education Post-1994
2.2.3 Inclusive Education
2.3 DYSLEXIA
2.3.1 History of dyslexia
2.3.2 What is dyslexia
2.3.3 Defining dyslexia and the debate surrounding it
2.3.4 Possible causes of dyslexia
2.3.5 Characteristics of Persons Experiencing Dyslexia
2.3.6 Dyslexia Assessment and Diagnosis
2.3.6.1 Dyslexia Assessment Process
2.3.6.2 Should diagnoses occur?
2.3.7 Interventions for those with dyslexia
2.3.8 The term and label of dyslexia in the 21st Century
2.4 LABELLING
2.4.1 What is labelling?
2.4.2 Labels for those with dyslexia
2.4.3 Advantages of labelling
2.4.4 Disadvantages of labelling
2.5 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 3 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK AND THE INDIVIDUAL WITH DYSLEXIA OVERVIEW OF THE CHAPTER
3.1 INTRODUCTION
3.2 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORKS
3.2.1 Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory
3.2.1.1 Microsystem
3.2.1.2 Mesosystem
3.2.1.3 Exosystem
3.2.1.4 Macrosystem
3.2.1.5 Chronosystem
3.2.2 Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
3.2.2.1 Basic Needs
3.2.2.2 Psychological needs
3.2.2.3 Self-actualisation
3.3 CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK
3.4 INDIVIDUALS DIAGNOSED WITH DYSLEXIA
3.4.1 Individual’s experiences of dyslexia within their ecological system
3.4.1.1 Diagnosis and Acceptance
3.4.1.2 Education
3.4.1.3 Living with dyslexia
3.4.2 The impact of dyslexia on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
3.4.2.1 Dyslexia and self-esteem
3.4.2.2 Systems involved in building the self-esteem of those with dyslexia
3.5 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 4 RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY OVERVIEW OF THE CHAPTER
4.1 INTRODUCTION
4.2 RESEARCH PARADIGM
4.3 RESEARCH METHOD
4.4 RESEARCH DESIGN
4.4.1 Phenomenological Research Design
4.5 SAMPLING
4.5.1 Sampling procedures
4.6 DATA COLLECTION STRATEGIES
4.6.1 Interviews
4.6.1.1 Semi-structured in-depth interviews
4.6.1.2 Interview questions
4.6.1.3 Interview procedure
4.6.1.4 Data recording
4.6.2 Researcher’s reflective journal
4.7 DATA ANALYSIS
4.8 TRUSTWORTHINESS OF THE RESEARCH FINDINGS
4.8.1 Credibility
4.8.2 Transferability
4.8.3 Dependability
4.8.4 Conformability
4.9 RESEARCH ETHICS
4.9.1 Protection of participants
4.10 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 5 DATA ANALYSIS, INTERPRETATION AND DISCUSSION OVERVIEW OF THE CHAPTER
5.1 INTRODUCTION
5.2 THEME ONE – THE BEGINNING OF THE PARTICIPANTS’ DYSLEXIA JOURNEY
5.2.1 Diagnoses and disclosure
5.2.1.1 Dyslexia diagnosed by professionals sought by the school
5.2.1.2 Diagnosed privately with the school playing a minor role
5.2.1.3 Diagnosed as an adult
5.2.2 Feelings about dyslexia
5.2.2.1 Prior to discovering
5.2.2.2 Reactions to discovering and the explanation
5.2.2.3 What dyslexia means to me
5.3 THEME TWO – MY CHILDHOOD AND ADOLESCENT EXPERIENCES
5.3.1 Family
5.3.2 School support and learning experiences
5.3.3 Teachers
5.3.3.1 Feelings experienced as a result of teachers’ actions and words
5.3.4 Peers
5.4 THEME THREE – LIVING WITH DYSLEXIA AS AN ADULT
5.4.1 Family
5.4.2 Relationships with others – Social life
5.4.3 Tertiary Education
5.4.3.1 University
5.4.3.2 Private colleges
5.4.4 Workplace experiences and challenges faced
5.4.5 Adult challenges
5.5 THEME FOUR – THE DYSLEXIA LABEL
5.5.1 Participants’ views
5.5.2 Disclosing their dyslexia
5.5.3 Societal and educational institutions attitudes and use of the label of dyslexia
5.5.3.1 Society
5.5.3.2 Educational institutions
5.6 THEME FIVE – MOTIVATIONAL EFFECTS OF LIVING WITH DYSLEXIA
5.6.1 Self-Confidence
5.6.1.1 Reading aloud and public speaking
5.6.1.2 Workplace
5.6.1.3 Interacting with others
5.6.2 Self-esteem
5.6.3 Goals
5.7 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 6 FINDINGS, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS OVERVIEW OF THE CHAPTER
6.1 INTRODUCTION
6.2 SYNTHESIS OF FINDINGS
6.2.1 What is dyslexia?
6.2.2 Ecosystems involved in the diagnosis and disclosure of the individuals’ dyslexia
6.2.3 Family, education and peer experiences prior to being diagnosed and labelled
6.2.4 Family, education, peer and society experiences subsequent to being diagnosed and labelled with dyslexia
6.2.5 Impact of dyslexia on adulthood
6.2.6 Views of the label of dyslexia
6.2.7 Effects of the label of dyslexia on the attainment of needs.
6.3 LIMITATIONS
6.4 RECOMMENDATIONS TO ASSIST THOSE WITH DYSLEXIA
6.5 FUTURE RESEARCH
6.6 CONCLUSION
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