EFSC Part 9

Dr. Conway: What percentage of people in juvenile justice have reading problems – 80 percent. What percentage of high school dropouts have reading problems – 80 percent again. And it probably varies some by area to area. What percentage of people in prison already incarcerated, have reading problems or literacy problems? Again, it’s at least 80 percent. We set these people on a trajectory of difficulty and more likely, failure, but not fixing these skills as soon as possible. Because in this society today, you really better be able to read and deal with language as we are a very language-rich society.

Dr. Conway: So by definition, dyslexia means ‘trouble with words’. It’s genetic, it’s lifelong. Our treatments are highly successful, but they’re not going to change your genetic structure. It may rewire the brain, but it doesn’t actually change the genes. Sometimes your reading comprehension is actually better than word reading and you may have co-occurring challenges. 50-70% of people with dyslexia will also have ADHD. There may be behavioral problems because of the frustration they’ve experienced.

Dr. Conway: There may be sensorimotor problems, which means when many of these kids are given a pencil to write, they don’t use a tripod grip., they grip it like this or like this [overhand and club grips] What they’re doing is turning writing into a gross motor activity. They’re moving the whole arm, this is a fine motor act. That wiring that I showed you was inefficient in the brain – that was that language cortex – what I forgot to point out was right above that, that’s your fine motor skill cortex. It’s fine motor skill for the fi ngers, and guess what other area? The mouth. Which we think leads to why they have decreased sensory awareness here, the tactile kinesthetic feeling isn’t as strong, because that’s an area of the brain that’s shown to have less efficient wiring. When that happens, it’s more difficult to help improve their skils.

Dr. Conway: What dyslexia is not – it’s not a visual problem. You don’t see words backwards. You’ll never see a dyslexic person look at the word ‘the’ and say ‘eht’. Doesn’t happen. That was a myth. It’s still being perpetuated today and completely unfounded by science. It’s not due to lack of intelligence. In my online company where we do online tutoring, all across the United States, one of my current clients – guess what is profession is? He’s a heart surgeon? Guess what he can’t do? Read or spell out words. And he made it through med school. He is a literal heart surgeon.

Dr. Conway: And what happened is, his kids started catching his reading errors, and he was embarrassed by that. He was like ‘’I’m a heart surgeon, I should be able to read better than my five and six year olds.” So he sought treatment, he sought help. He’s not the first physician I’ve treated. In thirty years, trust me, I’ve treated a lot of heart surgeons, neurosurgeons, hand trauma surgeons, people who’ve had more struggles. Guess what? You’ll see more dyslexia in surgeons than you will in pediatricians – why is that? To be a pediatrician, what might you be better able to do? Talk to people. What are surgeons not known for? Not great talking skills or bedside manner – the nurses do that. But they’re more skilled with the fine motor skills when they come in to do the surgery. But they’ve chosen a profession that works to their strengths, not their weaknesses.
Dr. ConwayYou’ll see more dyslexia in architects and engineers – how come? Those are visual-spatial activities, not as much language. Some people with dyslexia have better visual-spatial skills but when we do large-scale studies, not all of them. Many are just as impaired in their visual-spatial skills as they are in their language skills. The only way we know is when we test them. Once we test them, we know how to treat both those skills and make them stronger and helps us figure out what to do about it.