The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity
A Message from YCDC Co-Directors Drs. Sally & Bennett Shaywitz

The importance of a diagnosis for a person who is dyslexic.


Left to Right: first row—Dr. Nancy, Dr. Sally Shaywitz, Eugenia, the interpreter;
standing—Alini, Dr. Nancy’s daughter, Dr. Bennett Shaywitz

September 12, 2012

As a physician I know how important it is to have a diagnosis for your symptoms. Sometimes, the value of having a diagnosis of dyslexia is brought to light in unexpected ways. I had just such an experience recently when a wonderful educator from Brazil came to visit with us at YCDC. Her name is Dr. Nancy, a brilliant woman with a PhD who is enlightening Brazilians and helping educated boys and girls in Brazil who are dyslexic.

Dr. Nancy came with an interpreter and her daughter who is a judge in Brazil. She brought along a wonderful book, Educating for Us is a Matter of Principle, brimming with the happy and engaged faces of young boys and girls at the school she founded and heads, AGAPE. Dr. Nancy also brought along another book, Overcoming Dyslexia translated into Brazilian Portugese.

She was excited to tell me how she came to found AGAPE to educate all children, but especially those who are dyslexic, for whom at least 25% of the spaces are reserved. She described her struggles growing up, apparently incredibly bright in thinking and reasoning while tortured by her slow reading, difficulty finding the right word in speaking, and poor spelling. “Ha,” she said, “I have an interpreter because I had such difficulty in learning English.”

As so many other dyslexics have thought, “Am I smart, am I stupid? What is going on with me?” Her eyes opened wide as she with a big smile exclaimed, “And then I read Overcoming Dyslexia and it was so magical for me. At long last, I know what I had, it had a name and explained all my symptoms—what I could do so well and what I couldn’t do. Now I understood what I had, I was dyslexic! I wasn’t stupid at all.” This discovery gave Dr. Nancy empathy for other children who were struggling as she had and the passion to make sure these children were identified and received the best, most effective education possible.” And now, thanks to her efforts, those lucky enough to attend AGAPE are learning and gaining self-confidence.

Dr. Sally Shaywitz

Copyright 2008, The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity • Yale School of Medicine