Event Debrief: PEN presents Dr. Sally and Dr. Bennett Shaywitz

I had a wonderful time at the Parents Education Network’s big event last Thursday featuring dyslexia experts Dr. Sally and Dr. Bennett Shaywitz. The Shaywitzes founded the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity and they are leaders in the field of understanding the neurobiological and educational implications of dyslexia. Dr. Sally Shaywitz’s  book Overcoming Dyslexia is a landmark text for understanding reading difficulties and offering workable strategies and tools for helping struggling readers.

You can read lots about the Shaywitzes through the links above. My favorite quotes from the night were the following.

A big topic of discussion was the issue of extended time. Prior to her appointment to the Supreme Court, justice Sonia Sotomayor once made a ruling about the necessity of extended time in testing for students with dyslexia. She compared reading difficulties with physical disabilities that require other support, like a wheelchair. People who use wheelchairs, she argued, require ramps to mount curbs and climb stairs. Ramps help them accomplish things in their daily lives, and they’re critical to helping people do things that others take for granted. “For a dyslexic,” she argued, “time is his ramp.” Given more time to read, to process, to comprehend, a dyslexic person can achieve their necessary educational outcomes. Dr. Sally Shaywitz argued that, “Dyslexia robs a person of time, but accommodations restore it.” She also had a series of quotes about the exceptional abilities to understand and work with the big picture that dyslexics have and average readers do not. My favorite quote of the evening was the following:

You may be dyslexic is you read slowly and with effort–but are also the one to solve the problem.

The talk was inspiring, thoughtful, and thought-provoking, and I was thrilled to be able to attend. You can check out more about Sally Shaywitz online and find her book in our school library: it’s worth a look.


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