On KQED’s MindShift Blog, their Dyslexia Take Aways include the following:
“1. Dyslexia isn’t a disease, disorder or flipping letters backwards; it’s a different brain. Experts agree that dyslexia isn’t a dysfunction of the brain, or lack of willpower in an unmotivated or lazy student, but a brain that’s wired in a different way…”
2. Technology has changed the game for many dyslexics, and should be used as an aid in schools. For dyslexics, the voice-to-text apps and audiobook reading helpers developed in the last decade are not “cheating”: Instead, these life-changing tech tools are a way for dyslexics to fully participate in classroom activities that were once unreachable…
3. Teacher-training programs should spend more time focusing on what do to with kids who can’t seem to catch up…. Even after graduating from teacher-training programs, said Dr. Laurie Cutting, faculty director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Reading Clinic, many teachers operate under an assumption that the 50 percent of kids who didn’t magically learn how to read will eventually do so. But she said that’s mistaken — it’s crucial that teachers recognize when reading isn’t coming together and that all students, even the ones who read well, get direct, intense instruction in decoding, or matching letter sounds to their printed counterparts.”
The article is a bit agnostic on the dyslexic strengths debate, saying, “4. ..scientists have yet to figure out the chicken-or-the-egg proposition: Do dyslexics compensate when they realize they can’t read? Or does a different brain structure allow different talents and gifts to emerge?”; nevertheless, it does conclude: “What matters most is to focus on a child’s potential rather than deficiencies. And all too often, children in schools who are confronted with so much failure understandably fail to realize their strengths and talents. This doesn’t just apply to art and business either: As Dr. Sheryl Rimrodt at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Reading Clinic said, often beaten-down dyslexic students don’t realize that they can go to college and major in medicine, law or other subjects that may require lots of reading and writing. The key, said Rimrodt, is to realize that dyslexics have a different brain, and that brain will have different needs, and to proceed from that point. But students shouldn’t sell themselves short — and neither should their teachers or parents”…
All-in-all we’re heartened to see such progress in the understanding of dyslexia and notably too, over half the states in the US now have dyslexia laws on their books. We would like to reflect a bit more on the strengths issue, however.
Talk to any dyslexic adult, and almost all will name several (if not many) influential people who doubted, discouraged, and underestimated them. It is a sad fact in this world that still for young people today, a greater challenge in life than “overcoming dyslexia”, may be overcoming the negative onslaughts of people who would put them down or try to hold them back. Time for the tides of scientific research and public consensus to turn.