I am a speech-language pathologist specializing in reading and written language disorders. Our company, Lexercise.com, has been working hard to make affordable, professional evaluation and treatment available online to dyslexics no matter where they live. I have written a post for the Lexercise.com blog encouraging dyslexics, parents and practitioners to read My Dyslexia.
Schultz title, My Dyslexia, lets readers know that he is describing is HIS journey with this occult and often poorly understood condition. Schultz says that his self-awareness "was fashioned by years of psychotherapy and self-analysis and introspection necessary to the writing of poetry." He describes the confusion of trying to understand "where my dyslexia stopped and some bizarre emotional problem began."
This isn't a new story. There are many other accounts written by dyslexics. Contemporary research journals document the negative academic, social and emotional cascade associated with dyslexia. But Schultz uses his poetic, narrator's voice to tell a particularly compelling and moving personal story. His descriptions are concise and visceral, just what you'd expect of an award-winning poet. He describes his childhood with a mother, who believed in him and saw his talents, yet didn't know where to turn for help: "I can well imagine the disheveled logic and desperation that went into her not seeking help for me, except for the remedial help forced on her by my school."
One of my favorite descriptions is of the moment when Schultz first experienced reading: "The process of leaping over my own incapacities to the excitement in the narrator's voice...."; "I seemed to be 'listening' (not reading) to a voice in my own head, to a personage invented by my own fantasies."
Schultz occasionally departs from his personal narrative to draw conclusions: "There is one final clue to dyslexia in children and adults alike: the fact that they are in pain. Dyslexia inflicts pain. It represents a major assault on self-esteem." He quotes the International Dyslexia Association, concluding that many teaching and learning methods "only serve normal learners and are 'detrimental to the at-risk learner' who needs a more 'systematic, structured, multi-sensory approach.'"
Schultz says that he didn't understand that his own "breakdown" was "linguistic and phonetic" until recently, when his son, Eli, was diagnosed with dyslexia by a neuropsychologist, and he recognized the same symptoms in himself. Yet he says, "Even with modern science and technology, every dyslexic must forge his own 'strategy for survival.' " Really? While persistence and self-determination are certainly omnipotent for dealing with any personal challenge, it certainly doesn't sound like Eli has had to completely "forge his own strategy." In fact, Schwartz beautifully describes how Eli is thriving with "self-knowledge and support."
For the sake of the one child in five who suffers from dyslexia, I hope one message that readers take from My Dyslexia is that the path Schultz has made possible for his son, through professional evaluation and treatment, is faster, surer and less painful than was his own torturous path, through "years of psychotherapy and self-analysis and introspection."
Finally, in purchasing My Dyslexia for my Kindle I was startled to read this message: < The publisher has requested not to enable Text-to-Speech for this title.> Of all books, it seems like this one should have Text-to-Speech enabled! I wonder why the publisher would request not to enable Text-to-Speech for a book about dyslexia?