Rachel's Reviews > Overcoming Dyslexia: A New and Complete Science-Based Program for Reading Problems at Any Level

Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally E. Shaywitz
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's review
Dec 08, 2008

it was ok
bookshelves: read-part-of, nonfiction

Shaywitz explains that in brain imaging studies, fluent readers show activation in the back of the brain and very little in the front, while dyslexic people show underactivation in the back and more up front. She asserts that these images reveal "exactly where and how dyslexia manifests itself in the brain." I say they mostly just show us that dyslexic people don't read fluently. Um, duh.

So what's the difference between dyslexic and illiterate? Shaywitz offers the "sea of strengths" (i.e. disparity) model, according to which dyslexia is recognizable when it is surrounded by a "sea of strengths" like problem solving, comprehension, vocabulary, and general knowledge.

I stopped about halfway through this book because its prescription for overcoming dyslexia seemed to be don't be a poor kid who goes to a shitty public school in the ghetto. For struggling readers who have had neither good phonics instruction nor the opportunity to develop enough strengths to make a sea, Shaywitz's model is not useful.

I do not have any doubt that the ability to develop phonemic awareness varies tremendously, and that many very intelligent people have phonologic deficits. People with such deficits need more high quality instruction and practice in order to become fluent readers. But in fact, most people—dyslexic or not—need explicit instruction and everyone needs a lot of practice in order to master reading.

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