Overcoming Dyslexia: A Chat With Dr. Sally Shaywitz
In 2003, SchwabLearning.org hosted an online chat with Sally Shaywitz, M.D., where participants asked her questions about dyslexia and reading problems in children.
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.
List of Questions Asked of Dr. Shaywitz:
- What do you recommend when parents 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?
- Are there any proven programs that have been shown to help the short-term memory problems can be part of dyslexia?
- How do we begin to make the changes in special education that are so desperately needed? It seems as though we just keep doing what does not work.
- Is there a place we can find out which programs have been approved by the National Reading Panel?
- Do you believe that dyslexics, like stroke patients, can be taught to re-route their brains to use the correct part for reading?
- Can all children with dyslexia learn to spell fairly well? How much should we teach them to rely on technology for spelling, such as spellcheck?
- Why is there reluctance among evaluators to think about kids as dyslexic?
- How does balanced literacy fit in with your recommendations for reading instruction in the first and second grade?
- Would you speak about the child who eventually does learn to read and who still doesn't understand?
- As a mom, what encouragement would you give to parents so they can continue the work of helping children learn and be successful in life?
The following is the complete transcript from this event.
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.