I’ll admit that I was a little intimidated to start this book. It is supposed to be the definitive guide to understanding dyslexia, but this tome is so large and dense that I didn’t want to chicken to dip my toes into the dyslexia waters starting with this ocean of a book. While I am glad I waited a bit and approached dyslexia from a few friendlier sources instead such as The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan, The Gift of Dyslexia, and the website Homeschooling with Dyslexia, I do feel fairly confident saying this might be the only book you need. It is a wealth of information that approaches dyslexia all the way from preschool to adulthood.
Overcoming Dyslexia Details
Title: Overcoming Dyslexia
Author: Sally Shaywitz
Publication Year: 2003
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This book is long and not always an easy read, but it really does have it all. From the brain science of dyslexia, to advocating for your child in the school system, to helpful reading resources for dyslexic and non-dyslexic children, to what to look for in a college. I found myself frequently jotting down notes as I read along. Now I am armed with a big list of common words and roots to focus on as well as a list of educational resources and apps to try with my dyslexic child. I have solid advice for helping my kindergartner learn to read as well. I checked this book out from the library, but I’m thinking about buying it on my Kindle so I can go through and highlight the sections that were particularly helpful.
The author is extremely knowledgeable about dyslexia as she has been researching this topic for several decades and currently runs the dyslexia research center at Yale. She recommends evidenced-based protocols and cautions against simply researched-based approaches. Several methods claim to help dyslexics, but unless the theory is backed up by evidence, it is not worth the dyslexic individual’s time.
The book is divided into 7 parts each with several chapters. The first part helps you to understand what dyslexia is. The author makes it abundantly clear that although many people equate slow reading to slow thinking, this is not the case. Dyslexic people often have above-average intelligence. The condition is defined by a disconnect between intelligence and ability to read. The second session focuses on the diagnosis, explaining that children can often be diagnosed as young as kindergarten. The author created the Shaywitz DyslexiaScreen test to aid in identifying at-risk children. There are typically much better outcomes for the child the earlier the diagnosis occurs.
The third and fourth parts are all about helping non-dyslexic and dyslexic children to read. This is the section with the most actionable information for me personally. Since reading this book, I have purchased a couple sets of decodable books, which are early readers that require the children to look at the text rather than use the picure to read. Since dyslexic children in particular would rather look anywhere but at the letters on the page, these books help them practice decoding skills. I am also now making a real effort to help my kindergartner grasp the concept of rhyming. The author also recommends several apps that I am planning to look into soon.
The fifth and sixth sections are all about choosing a school. Section 5 focuses on K-12 and Section 6 discusses getting admitted to and choosing a college in depth. These chapters focus on what to look for a school environment. The author recommends several specific schools across the country devoted to dyslexic education. She discusses the accommodations which children should receive to level the playing field in a traditional school.
The last section discusses dyslexia in adulthood. ADHD and anxiety frequently accompany dyslexia so the author provides a thorough discussion of these other conditions as well. She recommends certain technologies to help dyslexics turn written text into speech. She even discusses the legal rights of dyslexics. The last chapter, which discusses the stories of several highly successful dyslexics was particularly uplifting and encouraging.
After reading this book, I do feel like I have a thorough grasp of dyslexia now. I still have a few other books checked out from the library and I will probably read them, but I do feel confident in saying if you are only going to read one book on the subject, this should probably be it.