Archive | January, 2013

Look What Persistance Will Do! Never Give Up!

25 Jan

A Yale School of Medicine student affected by dyslexia will receive special testing accommodations for the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination after he was denied them twice. Frederick Romberg MED ’12 will receive double the standard testing time and a separate testing area to take the examination as a result of a settlement reached by the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Board of Medical Examiners Feb. 22, 2011 in accordance with the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The settlement requires the board to provide reasonable testing accommodations to persons with disabilities who seek to take the test, a press release issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ )on February 22, 2011 stated. Romberg’s case, which was initially filed in January 2008 when the board refused Romberg’s request, has national implications for medical students with disabilities because it has introduced new guidelines for the administration of standardized exams.
“The settlement will change my life because I am confident that I will be able to do well on the exam now,” Romberg said. “I’m not the only one who’s had these problems across the country. It gives me great pleasure to know that other people in my situation will receive similar accommodations.”
Romberg said he first requested accommodations for testing in January 2008, but that his appeals were subsequently denied twice. The purpose of the accommodations is to ensure that any examination, written or oral, is an accurate measure of an individual’s ability to demonstrate their knowledge, and not a measure of their medical condition, said Sally E. Shaywitz, a professor of learning development at the medical school. “This settlement confirms and reaffirms that a person who is dyslexic can have high academic achievement but still be affected by the disability,” she said. Shaywitz, who co-directs the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity, said that dyslexia is defined as an unexpected difficulty in reading, in relation to a particular person. Normally, reading and intelligence are dynamically linked: someone who can read well usually has a high level of intelligence. But in individuals with dyslexia, Shaywitz said, someone can be highly intelligent while still experiencing reading difficulties. Since reading is based on speaking, dyslexic individuals have a harder time accessing sounds based on words, even though they understand the meaning behind the words, she said. “The ability to read varies very much for people with dyslexia because it’s harder for those affected — a striking one in five people — to read automatically,” Shaywitz said. “Sometimes it takes them twice as long, sometimes one and half times, to process the information contained in a passage.”
According to the DOJ press release, Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, said that in the past, demands for unnecessary documentation, professional evaluations or evaluative testing prevented individuals with confirmed disabilities from pursuing their chosen professions. Now, under the new agreement, the board will only request documentation about the existence of a physical or mental impairment in an applicant, whether the applicant’s impairment substantially limits one or more major life activities, and whether the impairment limits the applicant’s ability to take the test under standard conditions. Additionally the board will have to consider the recommendations of qualified professionals who have personally observed the applicant in a clinical setting. “Too many people like Frederick have seen their hard work disregarded and their career paths disrupted,” Shaywitz said. “What testing agencies have tended to do is ask for a whole panoply of information and testing that wasn’t relevant for determining who had a disability. At the very least, the settlement acknowledges that it’s important to give careful consideration to the medical history of the specific individual who’s being evaluated.”School of Medicine Dean Robert Alpern said Yale has not heard of any previous complaints about appropriate testing conditions for its students before, but added that the University does not administer these standardized tests and is thus not in a position to receive complaints. Shaywitz said that Yale stands out as a place that understands dyslexia scientifically and provides support for students with the condition like Romberg’s. “I don’t think that I could’ve gone to a more supportive place, a place that is more accepting of my dyslexia,” Romberg said. “It’s been a long road but I want people to know how much I appreciate the support from faculty like Professor Shaywitz. I couldn’t have done it without them. “The settlement was reached under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities by private testing entities that administer examinations related to professional licensing. The new regulations applicable to testing accommodations will go into effect on March 15, 2011 (Yale Daily News, February 28, 2011).

Stages of Reading

25 Jan

Developmental Reading Stages

Stage 1: Initial Reading or Decoding Stage (Ages 6–7)

At this stage, your daughter develops an understanding that letters and letter combinations represent sounds. She uses this knowledge to blend together the sounds of phonetically consistent words such as “cat” or “hop.” Even though you daughter understands that individual letters represent discrete sounds, she may still find it difficult to segment sounds in an orally presented sound. For example, if you say /cat/, your daughter may have difficulty segmenting that word into the discrete sounds of /c/ /a/ /t/. In addition, she may also have difficulty blending the individual sounds. Both of these skills are prerequisites for the decoding process. As such, decoding is the process by which a word is broken into individual phonemes and blended back together to create a word. Your daughter may reach each of these stages at a later-than-typical age. Keep in mind that your child will need to move through each stage at her own pace.

Stage 2: Confirmation, Fluency, Ungluing From Print (Ages 7–8)

As you daughter begins to develop fluency and additional strategies to gain meaning from print, she is ready to read without sounding everything out. She will begin to recognize whole words by their visual appearance and letter sequence (orthographic knowledge). She will start recognizing familiar patterns and hopefully reach automaticity in word recognition.

Your daughter will need extra repetitions to develop the strategies that lead to fluency. Because your daughter’s ability to recognize whole words may be hampered by auditory or visual perceptual problems, as many as 1,000 repetitions may be necessary for mastery of decoding to occur. This is a daunting number. It requires creativity and patience on everyone’s part to persevere through this process.

Without commitment to this lengthy and intense process, your daughter will begin to fall seriously behind. Do not expect the classroom instruction to incorporate this level of intervention, as the skills your daughter needs are often not explicitly taught and certainly not extensively practiced.

Stage 3: Reading to Learn (Ages 8–14)

Readers in this stage have mastered the “code” and can easily sound out unfamiliar words and read with fluency. Now they must use reading as a tool for acquiring new knowledge. At this stage, word meaning, prior knowledge, and strategic knowledge become more important.

Your child will need help to develop the ability to understand sentences, paragraphs, and chapters as she reads. Reading instruction should include study of word morphology, roots, and prefixes, as well as a number of strategies to aid comprehension. About 40% of children with reading difficulties have problems that are not apparent until they reach fourth grade.

Stage 4: Multiple Viewpoints (Ages 14–18)

In contrast to the previous stage of reading for specific information, students are now exposed to multiple viewpoints about subjects. They are able to analyze what they read, deal with layers of facts and concepts, and react critically to the different viewpoints they encounter.

When your daughter reaches the phase where reading involves more complex thinking and analysis, she is ready to shine. She may still have difficulty with some of the mechanics of reading, but her mind is well suited to the sharing and manipulation of ideas. She will be well prepared to move on to the final, fifth stage of reading—college level and beyond. If you can successfully guide your daughter through the early stage barriers to this phase, she will be able to excel at understanding and integrating advanced reading material.

Dyslexia Misconceptions

14 Jan

Dyslexia Misconceptions
Many misconceptions concerning the definition of dyslexia exist. In order to delve into the social construction and the biological origins of dyslexia, it is imperative that these misconceptions be replaced with accurate facts. The most common misconception concerning dyslexia is that it can be diagnosed when a student writes letters or words backwards (Shaywitz, 2003). Teachers and parents become overly concerned when they see evidence of these reversals in the writing samples of children. Badian (2005) reports that reversal errors are likely to disappear in children with reading disabilities as their reading and writing skills improve. The observation of reversals is not unique to the reading and writing of struggling readers. During the developmental process of acquiring literacy, most children engage in some level of word and letter reversals before the age of eight. Shaywitz (2003) asserts that there is no evidence that dyslexics actually see letters and words backwards. The core of dyslexia is not visual perception. The basis of dyslexia is a problem with processing language at the phoneme level. Kutz (1997) explains that phonemes are the representation of sounds that are meaningful within a language. These sounds allow individuals to distinguish one word from another. Thus, the deficiency in the dyslexic is the inability to distinguish the phonemic difference between /big/ and /pig/ rather than the ability to distinguish the graphic differences of the letters. Shaywitz (2003) expresses concern that many children will not be correctly diagnosed because they do not make the stereotypical reversals.
The assumption that dyslexia is the result of a visual processing deficit leads to a second common misconception. The use of colored text overlays or lenses is purported to be the quick fix for reading disabilities. Stone and Harris (1991) review evidence for the existence of scotopic sensitivity syndrome (SSS). SSS allegedly is manifested as a visual disturbance related to light. Treatment for SSS includes the wearing of colored glasses or the use of colored plastic sheet overlays. Stone and Harris assert that the diagnosis of this condition is extremely subjective and raises questions of accuracy and reliability of previous studies.
Early studies indicate that dyslexia affects more boys than girls. Gaud and Carlson (1997) propose that the girls who are referred to clinics are those most severely affected. They trigger the referral process as a result of the “squeaking wheel” phenomenon by displaying co-occurring overt behavioral patterns of inattention. Szatmari’s (1992) population studies found a ratio of identification of one girl for every three male diagnoses. Shaywitz (2003) gives evidence that as many girls are affected by dyslexia as are boys. She suggests that the reason that the over-identification of boys occurs is the manifestation of gender specific behavior. The occurrence of hyperactive and impulsive behavior by dyslexic boys is reported at a higher rate than that exhibited by dyslexic girls. The result is a disproportional referral rate. This argument presupposes a gender difference in the activity level of boys and girls. When girls display behaviors that mirror that of aggressive male behavior, it triggers the referral process and the subsequent diagnosis of a reading disability.