By Sally Shaywitz, M.D.
On October 14, 2003, SchwabLearning.org hosted an online chat with Sally Shaywitz, M.D. Participants had the opportunity to ask this nationally-known expert questions about dyslexia and reading problems.
Dr. Shaywitz: I'm really excited and looking forward to joining all of you this evening. It's really a pleasure to be here.
Moderator: We had a number of questions from parents who seem to have received doubtful, questionable, or borderline diagnoses of their children and want to know how they can be sure that their child does or does not have dyslexia. What do you recommend?
Dr. Shaywitz: That's a very good and very common question. The good news is that, because we have learned so much from science and understand dyslexia at a very basic level, we can now translate that science into the earlier and more accurate identification of children and adults who are dyslexic. That's why I wrote Overcoming Dyslexia and, in the book, on pages 122 through 127, I provide clues to help parents and teachers identify dyslexia earlier and more accurately. And I also provide a section called "Diagnosing Dyslexia" in the school age child, in the young at-risk child, and in bright young adults. From all that we have learned about dyslexia, we know how to ask the right questions about a child's development, language, and learning; what to observe as he or she reads out loud; and what the appropriate tests are. These are all discussed in Overcoming Dyslexia .
Moderator: Short-term memory problems can be part of dyslexia. Are there any proven programs that have been shown to help?
Dr. Shaywitz: Right, short-term memory problems are part of dyslexia because both of these problems reflect the basic problem of getting to the sound structure of spoken words. What is very exciting is that effective, science-based intervention programs for dyslexia have been demonstrated to improve short-term memory. In addition, saying the material out loud, associating it with a humorous or outlandish visual image, and trying to remember the material by viewing it right before going to bed and having a good nights' sleep can help retain the material to be remembered.
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