Thursday, February 14, 2013

Dyslexia: Dr. Sally Shaywitz, Yale University School of Medicine

“It’s time to call things what they really are,” declares neuroscientist Dr. Sally Shaywitz, the Audrey G. Ratner Professor in Learning Development at Yale University School of Medicine, and co-director of the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity.

She does just that in her best seller, Overcoming Dyslexia, detailing how to recognize and treat a disorder that now affects one in five children.

Subtitled “A New and Complete Science-Based Program for Reading Problems at Any Level (Knopf, Vintage),” the book lays out not only the latest research about recognizing this brain-based learning difficulty but does so in a compassionate and accessible way that has proven indispensable to parents, teachers, and policy makers.

Her book provides “tools” on how to identify dyslexic children and adults and empirical data on the kinds of resources that can make a difference at home and in school, including specific methods that can strengthen reading decoding and fluency.

Dyslexic readers can indeed “overcome” some difficulties and in the process, gain self-esteem, so essential a component in any pedagogy.

For sure, as Shaywitz notes, there’s confusion, if not downright denial, about dyslexia — but there need not and should not be.

While learning to read and accessing and retrieving a spoken word are often problematic, the ability to think and reason and have empathy are not affected, in fact, are marked strengths in those who are dyslexic.

As many role models out there show, dyslexic individuals can achieve because logic and reasoning are not adversely affected by dyslexia.

The list includes, for example, financial services innovator Charles Schwab, the writer John Irving, the renowned attorney David Boies (he didn’t learn to read until the 3rd grade!) and a host of well-known innovators, scientists, physicians, and even poets.

She emphasizes that slow reading should not be confused with slow thinking, nor should word retrieval difficulties and lack of glibness be misunderstood as lack of knowledge.

What is dyslexia? Shaywitz offers this definition: dyslexia is an unexpected difficulty in reading, in relation to an individual’s level of intelligence, age, grade or professional status.

It emanates from difficulty in accessing the individual sounds of spoken words so that there is a predictable array of symptoms, including [difficulty with] spoken word retrieval, reading ease and speed, spelling and learning a second language.”

She emphasizes that awareness of the basic difficulty in dyslexia allows educators, evaluators and parents to know what signs to look for to recognize dyslexia.

Importantly, dyslexia is a clinical diagnosis based on a synthesis of an individual’s history, observation of his or her speaking and reading and test results.

Shaywitz reminds us that tests are only proxys, it is the reality of an individual’s real life experiences that are of primary importance in diagnosing dyslexia.

Read the full article here at Education Update

No comments:

Post a Comment