Good News for Dyslexics

sally%20shaywitz.JPGDyslexia accounts for 90 percent of learning disabilities in America, and those who have it never outgrow it — they have to adapt. Sally Shaywitz (pictured), a national expert on dyslexia, who shared that statistic with a Citizens Television audience — then offered reason for optimism.

Shaywitz, author of the groundbreaking book in the field, “Understanding Dyslexia,” is a neurologist and co-director with her husband, fellow neurologist Bennett Shaywitz, of the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity at the Yale School of Medicine. They were guests on Thursday’s edition of 21st Century Conversations, hosted by N’Zinga Shani.

Dyslexia is defined as unexpected difficulty reading well compared to a person’s cognitive ability level. In other words, it is not a reflection of intelligence, though children who have it are often ridiculed by classmates as “slow” or “dumb.”

“When parents get that diagnosis for their children,” Sally Shaywitz said, “they’re devastated. But what does it mean? We’ve learned a great deal about reading and teaching reading, and if they get accommodations like more time on tests, they are going on to college and success. They must work very hard, but it can be done.” The website mentions people from many fields who have succeeded despite their dyslexia – Albert Einstein, John Irving, Whoopie Goldberg, among others.

Bennett Shaywitz said that half the people diagnosed with dyslexia also have some form of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and the reverse is also true. That can make for tough going in a classroom of 20 or more students, for the dyslexic child as well as his classmates.

charles%20cicarella.JPGAnother guest on the show was Charles Cicarella, supervisor of psychological services for New Haven Public Schools (pictured). He said schools offer a range of support services for these children, once they are identified, and their parents. “It’s whole school-based team,” he said. “It can wrap around the parent, and give referrals to, for example, the Yale Child Study Center; school systems also put on events so parents can understand what’s available.”

Bennett Shaywitz said that through the studies they conduct, many children are given MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging), so the researchers can actually observe the brain activity while the children are reading. “It allows us to take a hidden disability and make it visible,” he said.

For those who participate, added Sally, “We can offer a state of the art evaluation to families at no cost.”

She also mentioned an “exciting new treatment for dyslexia.” It’s a medication, atomoxetine (Strattera) “which preliminary studies suggest may be helpful in improving reading,” according to a brochure inviting children between the ages of 10 and 16 with dyslexia or ADHD to participate in one of two studies. Children who are good readers are also being recruited as a control group. Both groups will receive ability and reading achievement tests, a diagnostic interview and a physical with laboratory studies. Parents who are interested can contact Karen Marchione at 785-4641.

(Thanks for name correction, John John.)

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posted by: john john on February 20, 2009  12:14pm

Although i’m not a fan of this particular program, its good to see the independent recognize the importance of CTV (btw, it’s Citizens Television, not Community Television) as another alternatitve, local, independent media source.  As a former producer, i feel the relavance of CTV has been lost to many locals because of their desire to see sophmoric and pornographic two minute clips on youtube. 
I’d like to see a collaboration between the two best sources of free media left in new haven.

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posted by: Calochilus on February 21, 2009  8:13pm

Pity about the dyslexic link to Yale
instead of the correct
LOL (I know it’s just a typo but it struck me as humorous)


posted by: Araujo Roy on February 23, 2009  2:23pm

It is wonderful for 21th Century Conversations to provide a forum were we can have open, and honest discussions on dyslexia/ADHD. The information provided was a great resource for anyone looking for information, and even medical intervention. I am so please that were are able to bring some of the important mental health issues we face today out in the open.

posted by: john glennon on February 23, 2009  6:05pm

ADHD commonly exists with other educational problems. Our son, Alex, had auditory discrimination problems and some dyslexia as well. Our ADD coach suggested using and Play Attention. We were quite successful. It’s nice to be able to use programs that address the other issues that we had.

posted by: Jessenia R. on February 25, 2009  2:47pm

I am glad the Independent reported on this show. I saw the program on CTV and thought it was great!  Its a topic long over due. The guy in the article, Cicarella, was passionate and very credible.  He can reach the people the way he talks. The man from Hamden was good too, just a little too hard to understand, so were the doctors. I would love to see a follow up of the show with just the school reps.  Jess

posted by: Jim Fusco on February 26, 2009  12:37am

Even in the short time I was at this program, I learned so much about Dyslexia.  The participants in the program were very welcoming and personable, but what impressed me even more was their passion for education and children’s growth.

N’Zinga always puts on such enlightening programs- I can’t wait for the Women in Education forum on March 19th.


posted by: Mikell Harris on February 26, 2009  1:45pm

Saw part of the show.  It seemed good.  One of the people, I think the man from New Haven,  said that ADD is sometimes over diagnosed.  I agree with him!  My son was said to have ADD by a counselor. I gave him medication and things got worse.  It turned out that he has anxiety and the medicine made that increase.  So, good call on the warning of over diagnosis.

posted by: Yolette Bryant on March 5, 2009  7:48pm

I was not aware of the statistics mentioned in the article with regard to dyslexia accounting for 90% of learning disabilities.  It will be interesting to hear what the outcomes will be for the participants involved in future studies to test the effectiveness of Strattera. As an exceptional education teacher, I am grateful for a show that continues to provide the latest information that will help me with my students.

posted by: Mrs. Tucker on March 9, 2009  1:06pm

This recent 21st Century Conversations TV program on Dyslexia is more evidence that we in the New Haven, Hamden and West Haven area need to be able to see this valuable, locally produced television program during the week and more than once.  I was able to see only a part of this very beneficial program when it aired on Feb. 19.  Since then it has not aired again. 

This exceptional program is now airing only on Sundays at 6PM.  If we miss seeing it when it airs live on a Thursday we might never get to see it at all.  Why is this program being kept from us viewers?  The money that supports CTV comes from those of us who pay for Comcast cable.

I was one of the parents who called OneWorld last Nov. when they did the first program on Children’s Mental Health.  I asked them to please do more programs on learning disability; they promised that they would. I am pleased that the people at OneWorld are keeping their word; however, we need to be able to see the programs on the air.  We need to be able to take notes and write down the good information provided.  We have two children who have learning disabilities.  This 21st Century conversation program is a God-sent for us. Put the programs on the air at 8 o’clock in the evening; put them on more than once; we need these programs.  Sincerely,
The Tucker Family

posted by: N'Zinga Shani on March 9, 2009  1:50pm

OneWorld Progressive Institute Comments.

OneWorld greatly appreciates the comments made by viewers who saw our program on Dyslexia and visitors who read the article posted here by the NHI.

It benefits us significantly to hear from parents,  educators and professionals on the issues of learning disabilities.  This is true of any topic that we present. However, issues of health literacy and education tend to carry more critical weight because it can be costly not to have good information, and very beneficial when we do. The role of the NHI has been invaluable in spreading the word.

We are extremely grateful to the professionals who donate their time and expertise in working with OneWorld to better inform the community. We firmly believe that it is better to light candles of information than to criticize the darkness; uninformed criticisms only leave us ignorant.

We are working on getting clips of our programs on the web site, and expect to have those soon.  Our programs are also available on DVDs & VHS tapes at a nominal fee.

The programs are more dynamic when we get input from the broader community;  for example, when we present health or education forums and people come to the studio to ask questions and share their experiences that expands the program and allows us to deal with those specific situations with which viewers are confronted.  So in addition to providing the basics we can also provide more specifics and that help many more people. Goal:  Do all the good that we can for as many as we can.

Members of our medical advisory council provide exceptional health educations programs; we are extremely grateful to them.  When we go to the doctor, we have an average of 15-20 mins of interactive time with a specialist.  At our “21st Century” forums, participants have access to the professionals for 90-120 mins. Additionally, each person benefits from the questions asked by others.  Our biggest challenge is still to get enough people to show up for each of these forums.

Our next participant forum that is open to the community will be on March 31, 2009 from 7-9PM; the topic will be Autism Spectrum Disorder.

March is Women’s History Month, so on March 19, we will be honoring women teachers in Math & Science.  If you have daughters and grand-daughters, nieces and young female cousins, please watch with them. We want to encourage our young girls to pursue Math & Science as career fields. 

Again, OneWorld appreciates the support of those who help us to get our programs on the air and our dedicated volunteers and supporters who cheer us on. Without their help and support our programs would not reach the many people who report to us on the benefits they derive.

“21st Century Conversations” air on 14 cable systems; if you have not seen it, please ask your PEG station to carry it; we make the programs available at no cost to any station that requests them.

We ask you to keep watching and to join us in the studio whenever you can. Please remember that we welcome feedback. In providing these programs for almost 13 years, we continue to face many challenges; however, we think it is important to continue presenting them because we hear from many people that we are making a positive difference in their lives, and an important contribution to our community.

Everyone associated with OneWorld seeks to make a positive difference. Thank you for your support; please visit our website at  to learn more about the work we are doing, and please continue to support this NHI online journal; it is a beacon for us all.

posted by: Burt Townsend on March 10, 2009  9:51am

People who have dyslexia never outgrow it.”  That is most sobering; however, Dr. Shaywitz assured viewers that people with dyslexia can and often do function extremely well.  The key seems to be understanding exactly what the problem is and getting the best help available to teach those affected how to cope.  What else could we ask for?
The point is - without this remarkable TV program 21st Century Conversations airing on public access TV, I would not have known this.  We hear so many things about dyslexics that as parents we are afraid; sometimes we do not even want to get the diagnosis. We want to wish the problems away or hope for miracles.  N’Zinga Shani and her OneWorld organization are doing remarkable work in the community.  This is truly exceptional! Knowing that the genius Albert Einstein was dyslexic should give every parent who has a dyslexic child great hope and encouragement to help their child.
Thanks to all the doctors, the educators, the volunteers and all the people at OneWorld who work to make these outstanding programs possible for the rest of us.  Hats off to N’Zinga Shani for her tireless efforts to inform the broader community.  I am truly,

posted by: Becky Daly on March 10, 2009  8:58pm

As a teacher, it was great to be invited to this show- I learned a lot from talking to Bill and Charles before the taping and I will use their advice in the classroom.


posted by: Now Informed on March 11, 2009  6:26pm

The Power of Education!  The POWER OF INFORMATION!  Thank you all!

“It is not a reflection of intelligence, though children who have it are often ridiculed by classmates as “slow” or “dumb.” These words are a tonic to those of us who have loved ones who struggle with Dyslexia.
“When parents get that diagnosis for their children,” Sally Shaywitz said, “they’re devastated. But what does it mean? They must work very hard, but it can be done.”  Albert Einstein, John Irving, Whoopie Goldberg, among others were dyslexic!  Thank you for this article and this information.  Recently on NBC there was a program about a dyslexic young man who resorted to a life of crime because he did not know what was wrong with him, and he was perpetually angry.  Yes, that is TV and these programs often stretch credibility - but in this case, not too far.  There are still many parents in 2009, who are afraid to get their dyslexic children tested; afraid that the children will be stigmatized.
To those who are informed this might be difficult to understand; however, even in 2009 people live in many different worlds.  That is why this program and this information presented here on this web site are of great value.  A BIG THANK YOU to everyone involved in making this information accessible.  The gentleman from New Haven Dept. of Education is so very right in saying their support services make a hidden disability visible.  Sir, you have no idea.  Thanks to OneWorld Progressive Institute and N’Zinga Shani; thanks to the New Haven Independent; thanks to everyone who made this program possible.

Now Informed

posted by: Lorraine on March 15, 2009  1:07pm

The startling statistic that,“dyslexia accounts for 90 percent of disabilities in America,” is very interesting to me.  I have taught for many years and have worked with many special needs students and never has dyslexia come up as a diagnonsis.  I think it would benefit educators to understand more about this disability so they can better service the needs of their students.  If this is something a child does not outgrow but needs to learn to adapt his/her way of learning, there needs to be more awareness of this disability and how to make accomadations to those in need.  Thank you to 21st Century Conversations for bringing this topic more out in the open for discussion.  On a personal note, I have a cousin and brother in law with this disability.  Both went to college, one is an accountant, the other a chef.  Both are married with children.  It is a disability that when given the proper support can be overcome in a way that the individual will lead a very productive life.  Thanks again to programs like these that offer great information.

posted by: Stephen on March 15, 2009  1:13pm

21st Century Conversations is a great resource for informing the community about real issues that may effect our families or friends.  Keep up the good work!

posted by: Robert Miles on March 16, 2009  10:28pm


I want to thank you for compiling and presenting the excellent information on the OneWorld web-site and on the public access television programs, particularly on health and education issues.  I have tuned into a couple of recent programs and was impressed by the information that will help me to be better informed about my own healthcare decisions.  Articles posted on this New Haven Independent web-site and on the OneWorld site are helpful for more in-depth information.

As the Director of Career Services and person responsible for veterans’ educational benefits at Gateway Community College, I am involved with helping adult students make educational and career decisions in challenging times, and meeting the needs of student veterans, taking a particular interest in coordinating with the West Haven VA Hospital to increase awareness about the implications of veterans resuming their education with PTSD-related mental health disabilities.  I would welcome the opportunity to discuss these interests with you.

Thank you for your commitment to informing the community about vital issues.
Bob Miles

posted by: Diane Feinberg on March 17, 2009  3:35pm

Dear N’Zinga:
As a psychotherapist who is new to New Haven, I was thrilled to discover your beautiful and informative web-site.  The range of health topics it covers for both children and adults is amazing.  I particularly like the Heart Health Forum and the piece on dyslexia. 

Access to this information is so important to the many of us who do not have health coverage and need to choose carefully when and where we go for treatment.  Even for those who do have healthcare coverage, long consultations with physicians are a rare luxury. Not only is this website of extreme interest to me and my friends, but it is a great resource for me to share with my clients.

Thank you so much for providing this information to our community.
Sincerely,Diane Feinberg

posted by: A Frustrated Viewer on March 17, 2009  3:51pm

A Frustrated Viewer

Public Access TV has undergone many changes since it first came about; many of us ignore public access completely because for many years most of the PEG channels had such nasty reputation; they broadcast filthy programs filled with egomaniacs .  The programs were not edifying and they did not represent positive community images.  Then on Citizens TV arrived a truly exceptional program called 21st Century Conversations.  This program epitomizes the best of public access and really shows us what is possible when the people at the helm care about their community. 

Over the years CTV had been outstanding in the types of programs it carried.  This - 21st Century Conversations - program led the way.  The program used to air twice per week; in our household it was must watch TV. It no longer airs twice per week and sometimes we can never find it.  We used to see the sewing lady on CTV; that was also a good program; we no longer see that one either.  We are now seeing many hours of Free Speech TV on the education channel.  We are not seeing the excellent, locally produced, programs that inform us about issues in our community.  No one seems able to say exactly what is wrong.  Why are we the viewers in greater New Haven being denied the best in public access programs?

We heard about the 21st Century program about Dyslexia, but we were not able to see it. When we watch the program line up on Citizens TV we do not see any information about 21st Century Conversations.  In fact, CTV has been off the air for weeks now.  A colleague at work told all of us about this article on the New Haven Independent about the TV program on Dyslexia.  Thanks to the NHI, I was able to come on and read about the program. 

Every parent who has a child who is having problems at school, and they cannot quite decide if what is happening is normal, should read this article, call up the school, talk to one of the counselors and get the child tested.  The schools are large and they have a lot of issues to deal with. They might not notice things that you at home have questions about.  Talk to someone and get the help your child might need. 

Programs such as this 21st Century Conversations should be shown several times each week at different hours so that parents and teachers can see it.  This is what public access is supposed to be - GOOD for us the viewers; we pay for cable so that we can see these types of programs. 

Please put 21st Century Conversations back on CTV and put it in timeslots where we the public can benefit.  My understanding is that these public access programs are supposed to benefit all of us.

posted by: Charles Cicarella on March 18, 2009  2:35pm

N’Zinga, I want to thank you for hosting 21st Century Conversations and granting public school professionals like myself the opportunity to be a guest on your show. Your forum is a powerful and needed tool for reaching out to the surrounding communities in ways that benefit them directly. The show on ADHD and Dyslexia is such an example.  You gave listeners the opportunity to learn about these disabling conditions in informative and useful ways.  More importantly, the program provided individuals with disabilities and those caring for them affirmation that possessing a condition does not preclude one from having a great life!  On the contrary, we showed that working collaboratively and communicatively with schools, other social agencies, etc. opens the doors to a future filled with success and self-actualization.  At the very least, I hope listeners remembered that idea after the show ended.  It is a powerful self-advocacy tool!!!
N’Zinga, I personal want to thank you for all you have done, do, and will continue to do for our community through 21st Century Conversations.

posted by: NeRonda Langley on March 19, 2009  10:01am

21st Century Conversations, by way of this article posted by the New Haven Independent, is both educational and enlightening.  I appreciate the rudiments of understanding and the bare truth behind the, once thought to be ambiguous, learning disability known as dyslexia being exhibited.

According to Sally Shaywitz, ‘Dyslexia accounts for 90 percent of learning disabilities in America.’  The statistics of those living with the everyday reality of dyslexia are too daunting to neglect and should impel an urgent need for mass awareness.  Knowledge on how to recognize the signs of a child suffering from dyslexia should be as universal as the knowledge on how to recognize the signs of a child suffering from the common cold.  Intervention is essential but detection must come first and this is why it is imperative that a TV program of this caliber is seen more than once per week.  This program is a vital asset to the entire community. 

Knowledge is power! Thank you for empowering me!

NeRonda Langley~

posted by: N'Zinga Shani on March 21, 2009  1:53am

March is Women’s History Month.  We at OneWorld, Inc celebrated the talents of some of our outstanding women by inviting female teachers of math and science to join us in the CTV studio on Thursday evening, March 19, 2009. Twentyfour women who teach math and science in Hamden, New Haven, Plymouth and West Haven came to celebrate being teachers, talk about their love of teaching and about the importance of inspiring their students. It was one of the most invigorating and enjoyable programs we have ever done. We started these programs in June 1996.

I want to thank several people and to say kudos to many others. Presenting these programs always carry a number of challenges; therefore, getting the help of others is paramount. I am truly grateful to Hamden Supt. Fran Rabinowitz for being 100 percent cooperative and helpful in identifying every woman in her district who teaches math or science, following up with supervisors, and getting the information to me. 

Staying with Hamden—I also want to say KUDOS to Nancy Juliano, Science Teacher of the Year, 2008.  Nancy teaches 5th Grade Science at Shepherd Glen School. KUDOS also to Linda Livolsi, 6th Grade Science teacher at West Woods School and recipient of 2007 Science Teacher & the Award for CT Science Educator Fellow. Hamden High was well represented as was Hamden Middle. 

We had a 22 year old 6th Grade math teacher from Plymouth - Becky Daly.  She is facing first year challenges of teaching very squarely and said she enjoyed being with the more experienced teachers.

Thanks to math supervisor, Ken Matthews and science supervisor, Richard Therrien, the New Haven contingent was out in full force representing Truman, Vincent Mauro, Hillhouse, Career, Wilbur Cross, Copperative Arts, and the new Engineering & Science University Magnet School.  This brand new school with 83 students (20 girls and 63 boys) represent the challenge we face in getting more girls to focus on Math & Science.  That was a significant part of the goals of Thursday’s TV program—to say to parents & teachers—please encourage girls to focus steadfastly on Math & Science every bit as much as on English, History and the other “softer” or easier subjects.

The leader of this new Engineering & Science Magnet is Dr. Marjorie Edmonds-Lloyd. This dynamic package of brains holds undergrad degree in Chemistry from Oberlin, a Masters in Chemical Engineering from Howard, and a Doctorate in Women & Technology from UPENN. Hermine Smikle teaches AP-Calculus at Hillhouse; she has 18 girls and 4 boys in her class!!!  HIP! HIP! Hooray for that!

With the help of Bailey School principal, Gina Prisco, and West Haven High prinicipal, Richard Stancil, WH also had a contingent of two teachers each from WH High and Bailey school. They teach physics, science and math. This is an energetic group of teachers.  Gina Prisco is an exemplary leader. This is what we need in education for the 21st Century - dynamic, committed leaders.

Enola Aird and Katurah Bryant of OneWorld conducted short one-on-one interviews with the teachers before we went on the air.  We will bring you information from those interviews as a semi-documentary program.  When CTV is back up to its reguar programming we hope to bring you this two-part program.  We thank Enola, Katurah & Lisette Bernier-McGowan, she did a lot of behind the scenes work, for making this program possible.

The panel of 24 teachers represented people from very diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds; they all have one thing in common—a passion for teaching.  We thank them all. We encourage parents and community leaders to support good teachers; form partnerships with them for the benefit of all of our children; hold all teachers, administrators and our schools accountable for inspiring our children to learn.

Without the CTV facility and the volunteers who come monthly to help us with our programs, none of this would be possible; we thank NeRonda Langley for joining the team.  Thursday’s program was particularly challenging as CTV is doing an equipment upgrade and there are many technical changes.  We thank the management at CTV for making it possible for us to go on the air Thursday night. 

Finally, OneWorld is a small volunteer organization; we welcome those who can help us to better serve the larger community.  We welcome teachers and other experts who are willing to work with us to educate our children and keep the community informed and engaged. We thank Paul Bass and the NHI for all they do to help us to get the word out on all the topics we cover. Nothing is impossible to willing hearts. Please keep watching “21st Century Conversations” and visit our web site often.