Senior Dana Alliance Couple Demystifies Dyslexia

It was not long ago that dyslexia was believed to be a sign of laziness, unintelligence, or even bad vision. However, thanks to breakthroughs in research by couple Sally Shaywitz, M.D., and Bennett Shaywitz, M.D., stereotypes around the learning disorder have begun to fade.

Affecting approximately one in five people, dyslexia is characterized by a difficulty reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words, which is called decoding. Also known as a reading disability, dyslexia affects areas of the brain that process language. Dyslexia is not considered a disease, and its causes are neurobiological and genetic. Those affected by it can fall anywhere on a wide spectrum, and treatment involves adjusting teaching methods to meet the person’s needs.

While it has been studied before, the Shaywitzes are often credited with many of the breakthroughs regarding the disorder. Sally, 76, and Bennett, 79, are both Dana Alliance for Brain Initiative members who have been married for 55 years. Having met in 1963 at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, the couple now run the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity and have recently updated a study they began in 1983, according to their recent profile in The New York Times.

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The Science of Educating Special Needs Children

A Public Luncheon Briefing
Hosted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
Through the Support of the Dana Foundation

In Conjunction with Rep. Chaka Fattah

Wednesday, September 9, 2015
12:00-1:30 p.m.
B369 Rayburn House Office Building
Lunch Provided

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Creativity and Dyslexia

What do actor Henry Winkler, Connecticut governor Dan Malloy, paleontologist Jack Horner, and New York student Skye Lucas have in common? Dyslexia and success. In an article for The Wall Street Journal, Melinda Beck argues that many experts believe dyslexia does not influence intelligence and that many dyslexic individuals have thrived by utilizing creative talents, the ability to think differently, and by working harder than their peers.

From the WSJ article: “As many as one in five Americans has some degree of dyslexia, according to Yale research, although only about 5% of children have been formally diagnosed. And it clearly runs in families; six gene variations have been linked to the condition to date. Dyslexia was long thought to be a vision-related problem, but there’s a growing consensus that dyslexics instead have difficulty associating letters with spoken sounds and blending them together fluidly to make words.”

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