Ep. 111: Overcoming Dyslexia and Addressing The Reading Crisis with Sally Shaywitz, MD

Dec 13, 2022 | 0 comments

We are in the midst of a reading crisis in the United States. This problem has existed for a long time, but it has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been said that the pandemic has caused the loss of 2 decades worth of progress made in reading. We have the knowledge, research, and science to address this issue, but we are lacking action.

Today’s guest is Dr. Sally Shaywitz, one of the world’s preeminent experts on reading and dyslexia and author of Overcoming Dyslexia. Dyslexia is the most common learning disorder on the planet, affecting about one in five individuals, regardless of age or gender. In today’s episode, Dr. Shaywitz shares what is known about dyslexia, the 40 years of data to show what works in overcoming dyslexia, and the sad reality that there is little action being taken to improve screening students and providing the appropriate interventions.

There is so much we can do and it all starts with understanding. 


Show Notes:

[2:31] – Regardless of decades of research, there are still a lot of misconceptions.

[3:44] – Dyslexia is a very specific learning disability, but the term “learning disability” is very vague.

[5:21] – Through brain imaging, Dr. Shaywitz was able to determine the neuro signature of dyslexia.

[7:21] – Educators, parents, and the individual with dyslexia need to know that they are intelligent and have the intelligence to read, but dyslexia makes it a struggle.

[8:58] – Dyslexia is common in all areas of the world. The consequences are similar in all cultures.

[10:06] – Those with dyslexia can be good readers while still reading slowly.

[11:02] – The most important step is for the student to be identified as dyslexic.

[12:34] – Through her studies, Dr. Shaywitz has nearly 40 years worth of data for both typical readers and dyslexic readers from childhood to adulthood.

[13:50] – Indicators of dyslexia can be seen as early as first grade. Identifying those at risk for developing dyslexia and intervening early can accelerate reading growth.

[15:06] – Screening can take place later, but by then, the window of time for the most reading growth has passed.

[17:03] – Currently, we are scoring worse in previous years in identifying dyslexia in young students.

[18:09] – Dr. Shaywitz describes the screener used to determine the risk of dyslexia.

[20:08] – A universal screener is a solution to this reading crisis.

[21:13] – Given that we know a great deal about dyslexia, it is disgraceful that more isn’t being done to support students.

[22:14] – ADHD and anxiety often co-occur with dyslexia.

[23:36] – We often hyperfocus on the struggles, but what are the common strengths for those with dyslexia?

[24:42] – School policies and teacher training surrounding dyslexia need to be changed.

[25:46] – There is also research on individuals incarcerated who are also dyslexic.

[27:06] – Dr. Shaywitz offers a course on Coursera that can be found here.

[29:36] – We need screening, intervention, and education for parents, teachers, and students.


About Our Guest:

Sally E. Shaywitz, M.D. is the Audrey G. Ratner Professor in Learning Development at Yale University and Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity. She is a world renowned scientist and dedicated, compassionate physician who is devoted to bringing ground-breaking scientific advances to benefit dyslexic children and adults.


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The Diverse Thinking Different Learning podcast is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical or legal advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Additionally, the views and opinions expressed by the host and guests are not considered treatment and do not necessarily reflect those of ChildNEXUS, Inc or the host, Dr. Karen Wilson.