Exploring Dyslexia and Neurodiversity with the Reading Center
In this episode of Friday Night Sound Bytes Dr. Loucresie Rupert invites Jamie Schwaba and Faye Van Vilet, from the Reading Center in Rochester, Minnesota, to speak on dyslexia and neurodiversity. Schwaba, the Director of Development, and Van Fleet, the Director of Programming, tirelessly work in their dyslexia institute focusing on helping children and adults learn to read using the Orton Gillingham approach. The Reading Center also provides scholarships, tutors, and adult training sessions, alongside outreach activities to ensure a diverse range of individuals can access their services.
The Reading Center's main page: https://www.thereadingcenter.org/
Specific pages on The Reading Center's Website that might be helpful:
What is Dyslexia: https://www.thereadingcenter.org/what-is-dyslexia
dyslexia screener: https://www.thereadingcenter.org/dyslexia-screen
Science of Reading video & info: https://www.thereadingcenter.org/science-of-reading
Resources Page: https://www.thereadingcenter.org/other-resources
Free online courses for MN Teachers: https://www.thereadingcenter.org/onlinecourses
Orton-Gillingham Tutor Training (need-based scholarships availble with a focus on Trainees of color and those who can teach in-person in MN for TRC after the training): https://www.thereadingcenter.org/tutor
Sold a Story Podcast: https://features.apmreports.org/sold-a-story/
International Dyslexia Association Digital Library: https://dyslexialibrary.org/
Right to Read Movie: https://www.therighttoreadfilm.org/
NAEP: Nation's Report Card, Reading Scores: https://www.nationsreportcard.gov/reading/?grade=4
Please continue to join us as we discuss topics that center voices that have historically been overlooked and suppressed. Let's tell our stories, learn from them, and overcome. Please check out my webpage for upcoming events and follow me on social media.
Loucresie Rupert MD: Welcome to Friday Night Soundbytes with me, Dr. Loucresie Rupert. Join me as we discuss topics that center Black and other POC. Neurodiversity, Disability, LGBTQ, Adoption, and Trauma. So tonight, we have Jamie Schwaba and Faye Van Fleet of the Reading Center, in Rochester, Minnesota here with us. And I'm very excited to talk to them.
The Reading Center is a dyslexia institute. It helps work with kids with dyslexia learn how to read and, not only learn how to read, but to enjoy and start to love reading. The Reading Center Dyslexia Institute of Minnesota has been open since 1951. Thousands of children and adults have benefited from the Reading Center's approach to helping students with dyslexia.
The Orton Gillingham approach is a research based, multi-sensory, phonetic approach that is the hallmark of the Reading Center's team of specially trained tutors and is used throughout our programming. They are located in Rochester, Minnesota, but they also serve students and train adults at our faculty in Rochester and online.
The Reading Center Dyslexia Institute does testing for dyslexia and have scholarships for families that came can afford the tutoring and then training other adults to tutor on Orton Gillingham method, and they also do outreach. So Jamie Schwaba is the Director of Development. Jamie joined the Reading Center in 2021.
She holds a BA in Theater Arts from Carroll University and an MS in Adult and Continuing Education from University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. She has spent her career serving nonprofits with a focus on education and the arts. Jamie works as a volunteer with adults with disabilities through home and community options and has served on the Winona Nonprofit Alliance and River Arts Alliance boards.
Faye Van Vliet is the Director of Programming with the Reading Center since 1996, Faye is a fellow of the Orthon Gillingham Academy and is a certified dyslexia therapist through IDA. She holds Minnesota State teaching licenses in elementary education, middle school language arts, and K 12 reading. She is a lead instructor for the Orthon Gillingham Training Institutes, a diagnostician, master teacher, and educational therapist.
Passionate about reading, Faye has more than 35 years of experience at all levels of education. As an adjunct instructor at Rochester Community and Technical College, she researched and developed Orthon Gillingham in the collegiate classroom, and assisted adult learners in gaining literacy skills. Faye helped develop the Rochester Reading Champions programs, which reaches the underserved with Orthon Gillingham Instruction and remains active as its liaison. She presents locally, regionally, and nationally.
All right, thank you guys so much for joining me tonight. Thank you for having us. Why don't we start with just kind of telling us a little bit about the Reading Center and the program. What you guys do and kind of how things came to be about.
Jamie Schwaba: Sure. I guess I’ll give kind of a quick overview of what we do and because I know that it'll probably be a little bit heavier in your questions about dyslexia and, and some of the weeds of, of that is probably gonna be heavier to face.
So. Basically, our mission is to is to just serve all the educational needs of, people that have dyslexia, and we do that through testing, tutoring as well as teaching training and we also really dabble in the promotion of science of reading, which is what the Orton Gillingham Tech Department does.
is based on the science of reading. That's kind of a big buzzword these days but we've been doing it for over 70 years. But, science of reading is, is how our brains learn to read. And it's, so it's, it's using techniques that help readers learn how to read based on how their brain works. And it's important for Most all, all readers, but especially those that have dyslexia.
Loucresie Rupert MD: I am very fascinated by being able to teach someone how to read. And I don't even remember learning how to read. I was an early reader, so I don't know if I kind of just picked it up really easily. But tell us a little bit about the science of learning how to read. Just. You know, before we kind of go to dyslexia and how that differs, what is the science of learning how to read?
Fay Van Vilet: Well, it begins, I think what's interesting is to consider the origins of that terminology and where it began. And it began with reading wars back in the 1950s and even way back to Horseman. And there were people who are very passionate about reading and they would fight about how do we read and nobody knew quite for sure, because they couldn't see inside of the human mind and much of the science of reading comes because of the problem of dyslexia.
So, because of the problem of dyslexia. People having difficulty learning to read, they went and started to research. Some of the earliest research began with in the 1980s with anatomical exploration of the brain of deceased known dyslexics, and they found these little Bumps on the outer region of the brain and they're like, what's going on here?
So what they found out was that during the migration of the neurons in the brain, that they were migrating too far out, interrupting the paths, the natural paths of reading. And so those were some of the first ones, but then they began to use fMRIs, where they can safely put them in a machine and watch what's happening in the brain as a person reads.
What they found was that when a person reads, first they take in the letters. visually, and then that connects to the auditory system. So you, often when you're reading, you will hear like a little tape recorder going on in your brain. So that's that visual connecting with the auditory. And then all of a sudden, you've heard people talking about movies.
It'll connect to meaning, and people can actually visualize what they're reading. But it is taking. One letter at a time, very systematically and sequentially, as you look at a word, you process every single letter, and then you read the word. And as you've read it over three, four, five times, it becomes an automatic recognition of the word.
Loucresie Rupert MD:
How does that then change for people with dyslexia?
Fay Van Vilet: It changes because the structure and function of the brain is different. So we always know, you know, like we talk about the gray matter of the brain and we talk about the white matter and, and people make jokes about those, but it's no laughing matter.
The brain structure and function is constitutionally different. And what they have found in those fMRIs is that in the normal reader, that functioning is happening on the left hemisphere of the brain. So, when they were looking at these normal readers in the fMRI machine, they would see that area of the brain light up, but then the right hemisphere wasn't lighting up as much.
Then, when the student who had dyslexia, was observed, they found that the right hemisphere of the brain was lighting up, but not the left hemisphere of the brain. So there was this difference in functions in the, the areas where we talked about first, how you first see the word, and then you process it auditorily.
Those two areas weren't lighting up well, especially that phonological or that sound area of the brain. It didn't light up. And so you probably hear often phonemic awareness that phone meaning sound. It's that poor processing of sound and poor strapping it to the sound symbol. And so then the gray and white matter of the brain are not connecting well.
Loucresie Rupert MD: So I wonder, is there any research on like written language versus picture language. Yes. And the reason I'm asking that, cause it seems like maybe picture language was first, right? So that's kind of, it seems like it would be easier to process. And then we switched to really written language, which hasn't had enough time to be evolved for everybody.
Fay Van Vilet: Jamie, did you want to say something to that? I saw you shake your head.
Jamie Schwaba: Yes. No, I just, I just was shaking my head. Cause I have heard that, but you probably have more insight into that.
Fay Van Vilet: Well, when we look at things and we draw things, that's more of a right hemisphere process, and that's the area that the dyslexic learner is using.
So that is the picture part. But when we're processing language, it's in that left hemisphere. And so they are using their visualization skills, if you see someone writing and it looks like they're drawing. Rather than fluently writing, that might be, that might give you some information about what's going on in the brain.
Jamie Schwaba: And I think that what you're kind of adding to is, you're kind of talking about is that the brains are different. And that is also why many dyslexic people also are very gifted in many different ways, right? We have so many famous scientists, famous, you know, artists, different things like that because their brains.
So they also have many gifts,
Loucresie Rupert MD: many gifts too. Yes. And so that's really what I was thinking about is I, I'm neurodiverse. My kids are neurodiverse. I talk about neurodiversity probably the majority of the time on my podcast. And when I go out and do speaking things and, and I'm a child psychiatrist, so obviously I see a lot of neurodiverse kids.
Right. And so one of the things I'll always mention for like my ADHD and autistic kids is really, if you think about human development. ADHD and autism can be highly selected for in, in the, in the environment that has been the home of humans for most of history until recent history. Right. So if you are like, we call it ADHD attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, but if you have ADHD, you know, it's not that you can't pay attention.
Is that you can't filter attention. So someone who is a hunter gatherer, who's able to kind of pay attention to everything in their environment is really more selected. So when I, you know, hearing you talking about. about the picture and, you know, the right side, the left side, that kind of clicked for me that that would actually be beneficial in that time period. And it's only pretty recent history that that's not beneficial.
Fay Van Vilet: Yeah, I mean, you think of even exploration of moving West across the nation, right? Those kinds of things, a spatial and ability to move in life would, would be more important than reading, but reading is today's currency.
Jamie Schwaba: And I think that's where we get into the problem.
Loucresie Rupert MD: So how do we teach someone with dyslexia to read?
Fay Van Vilet: What is so amazing is there are several major studies that have happened over the last 20 or so years. And the first one is called the National Reading Panel. It was done by Congress. And they. They studied over a hundred thousand studies and of course when you do a meta study like that, you narrow it down to they throw out the ones that don't fit or ones that aren't, don't have fidelity and they came up with five areas of reading.
And, and they came up with the best way to approach reading. What they learned is it needs to be sound, simple, sound familiar, what we were talking about, that sound area of the brain, seeing the letters, that it needs to be phonetically based, the phonemes of the language. So we start there. And then that student who has difficulty processing language has kind of a disorder in their brain.
In other words, the information is not going to the correct center for reading. So what we need to do is help train that brain to be systematic and sequential. So the instruction needs to be one sound at a time, taught in isolation. Then the next sound, I always think about my student, my first student I had, his name was Matt.
He was in first grade and he couldn't read and so I taught him what M said. I taught him how to write M and then we did A, so we wrote Am and read Am and then we did T and he could write his name Matt and then we taught him about sentences. You know we could do those orally so he could write Matt by learning each piece.
One at a time, strapping the sound to the symbol, in other words, the sound of the letter to the letter itself, and the shape it makes, and sounding it out. And so that's where you begin, and then you make it very structured. So, there are some things, you wouldn't start with the letter Q, right? You wouldn't start with the letter X.
You want to, I mean, think of Vanna White and, and on TV, what letters are we, do we most use? RSTLM, you know. Right. So you want to start with those sounds and teach those sound symbols and just each time adding another sound or two and having them blend them together, not giving them things they haven't been taught.
Teaching them not to guess. teaching them you are empowered. You can do this. You know what A says, Ah. You know M says, Mm. Put those two together, Ah, Mm, Am, or Mm, At, Mat. And then from there, of course, you're writing, because when we write it, we remember it. So we call this a multi sensory approach. We want them to see it.
We want them to hear it. And then feel it in their mouth and write it. So if you have someone who, you know, maybe they come from another culture and haven't heard a specific short vowel, usually like ah, you can teach them how that feels in the mouth and they can learn by feel and then the brain will eventually recognize it.
By sound and then go from there. So that's that multi sensory piece is so essential.
Loucresie Rupert MD: I was just going to say, I'm kind of going through that a little bit. I'm learning slash relearning Spanish. I was a Spanish major in college, but never used it. So lost it. I've never, ever been able to do the trill, the R.
Never. I am doing, I work there's a program called Baselang and you pay like a monthly fee and you get like unlimited tutoring or whatever, but there's one particular tutor that I've worked with that is great at teaching like phonetic sounds. So I've been working with her 2, no, since November, so 3 ish months, 3 and a half months.
And just now starting to get that R sound. Super exciting y'all because I made it all the way through a Spanish degree without ever doing it. But the point of that was that she really focuses on like, where's your tongue? How does it feel in your mouth? Oh, you made it correctly. Remember how that is?
So, you know, I’m kind of I mean I’m learning a language So I’m kind of like a kindergarten right in in that sense as I’m relearning the language, So I have to learn all those things that I didn't think about as I was learning them as a kid because I did start reading early. I think I was reading before I was in school.
So I didn't really have to deal with that, but now I do have like articulation issues and all that, that, you know, back in my day was never diagnosed or anything, even with English, but I talk really fast as you can see. And so sometimes people don't notice but in Spanish they notice, right? Cause they don't know that I have these articulation issues, or they don't know, like, whatever the case is, they, they in Spanish, they're like, nah, you're not saying that right. So, I'm kind of learning this multisensory approach, which is cool, but. Not necessarily super easy. So how do you keep kids engaged when it's like a struggle at first?
Fay Van Vilet: They love mastery. They love to know they can do it. I think that's the greatest reward is that I can do this. And it's almost like they can't wait for it.
Now, you always have the child who is not going to want to engage, right? And that there are difficult, difficulties engaging certain personalities because we're always so different. But In general, if we connect with the child and gain trust with them, I always think that's our first step. We have to have trust.
They have to know that we do this and then help them understand that they know it. We go through. And we'll hold up a pack of cards that it might be two inches thick and they'll be like, man, I know all those sounds and they feel really good
Jamie Schwaba: about that. Yeah. And I know like we recently in one of our partnership programs I forgot to mention, we are a nonprofit organization.
And so one of our, our. Our big core values is that we're really trying to reach underserved you know, populations and make sure that everybody, I mean, anybody can be affected by dyslexia about one in five people are so it's, there's a lot of people that are undiagnosed. But, you know, I think that one of the important things is, is that we're trying to really make our programs accessible.
And one of the things, I just loved talking with a tutor recently that's in one of our partnership programs that started this fall and she had a non-reading fifth grader. You know, and he learned the silent E recently and he like exclaimed to her, oh my gosh, I'm going to be able to read so many new words, you know, and just that you know, just to be able to hear that.
I mean, because such a world really unlocks. I think when, when students can finally make those connections, I mean, and we do have from a handful of our alumni that we'll talk about that have are very, very successful. You know, we have a recent or an alumni that recently graduated college that is a rocket scientist for blue origin.
You know, we have lots of local entrepreneurs and lawyers and things like that. So it's they can do lots of different things. Sometimes it takes a little while longer to get there. But I think they'll almost always tell you that that's also the gift of dyslexia as well. But I think there are a handful that will say that at first they used to, there was one, one alumni that talks about how he would run away at first from tutoring.
He didn't like it, but then you know, he ended up, you know, enjoying it and ended up, you know, coming back and, and all of that stuff and, you know, is able to read because of it because of the tutoring and things like that. I also heard you talking about the language. I think that's really interesting.
I think Fay and another one of our tutors have actually been doing a lot of research into, how Multi language learners or, or English language learners are learning and some of the, some of that, the face shapes and, and different things like that and, and it's just fascinating. And because that adds a whole nother level to what the needs are of those students, right?
Loucresie Rupert MD: Because I can imagine. You know, the, which I have not read it in any recent research, but I think the last thing I heard is that generally for bilingual speakers. So that's assuming that they're probably not dyslexic or have other learning disabilities that they kind of are slow at first, but catch up pretty quickly, but I could imagine if you have dyslexia or other differences in learning that the catch up is probably not quick when you're like getting bombarded from two languages, you know, exactly.
Jamie Schwaba: And I think for all languages, yeah, when.
Fay Van Vilet: When you have more complexities that come along with the dyslexia, maybe you have dyslexia, you know, there's 40 percent overlap with dyslexia and ADHD. And we see, we're seeing a lot more multilingual learners come through. So maybe there's poverty now that we're working more with students of need or trauma. All of those things really can make a student's learning more difficult for them.
Jamie Schwaba: Also, dyslexia is, just that it is common that also, like, maybe a parent or another family member is also dyslexic. So, a parent that struggled might also expect their student to struggle, or if there is a language barrier. The parent may not be able to help or recognize that there is an issue if they're not recognized
Loucresie Rupert MD: I recently read the story of Jason Artie, who is a Black man who's the first, the youngest Black teacher at Cambridge, who's actually autistic. Maybe, I mean, I have no idea if he's dyslexic too or not, but he's autistic, didn't speak till he was 11, didn't read and write till he was 18, and is the youngest professor at Cambridge.
Wow. So, Like, you know, it's just, once we figure out how someone learns, like, I'm pretty sure, you know, as a child psychiatrist, I see reports all the time about autistic kids that are, intellectually disabled. And obviously there are autistic kids that are intellectually disabled, but I think what we have right now does such a poor job of really looking at someone with brain differences and what they're able to do. I mean, I can almost guarantee it. I will bet money on the fact that at some point, this kid that didn't start speaking till 11 and reading till 18 was called intellectually disabled. And he obviously is not. Oh, yeah. So it just shows we have so much more to learn about teaching people.
Fay Van Vilet: Right. Absolutely. I think that, you know, in our with our tutoring pool, we've been really trying to work to equip our tutors. So we've had some very specific trainings for the tutors on trauma, ADHD, and now multilingual learners.
Loucresie Rupert MD: I do have a question. How can you tell? So when you have a reader who's kind of starting to get, you know, like you said, teaching the M, teaching the A, now they could say am and M and, and those kinds of things.
How do you differentiate that they're picking up or that they're memorizing? Kind of those short words, well,
Fay Van Vilet: because they have to sound about, you know, we don't give pictures. We don't give cues. They have to sound out each sound. And then you change. So let's add in some other letters, right? So maybe we add in P. So you, you can do what's called a Blending drill, and that's what you're talking about is blending words, and you can stack your cards so you have a consonant at the beginning, a vowel in the middle, and a consonant at the end, and then you just flip the cards over to make nonsense words, so that's how we find out, because then they have to read these words they've never seen before, and if they can do that, that mimics, that's mimicking a new word that they have never seen, and they learn how to pronounce.
That's all I have. Read letters and sounds in any pattern that you present to them.
Jamie Schwaba: And would be correct in saying that that's what the big differences that is not happening, that's not happening in a lot of the school programs. You have the balance literacy or the whole language where there's a lot of queuing that's going on, which yes, and or there you're looking at the picture and you're supposed to guess what it is.
But then you get. That's how those kids get through at a certain age, and then all of a sudden, they get to a point where they have books that have no pictures.
Fay Van Vilet: Right. And I just saw, and Jamie, it would be great if you could post in there somewhere the, the TV production or the movie production that that's just been put on and they did that exact thing.
They had a child, yeah, Reading a book with pictures and the child was reading, it sounded like they could read fluently, they turned the page and they covered the picture up and the child couldn't read. So the child was never reading in the first place, they were memorizing just like you had said. How do you tell if they're reading or memorizing?
And so often, we try to have we do like to get colorful and engaging books, but we also like to have passages that have no pictures, where they have to read every single letter on the page. Okay. This part and that's what good readers do.
They process every single letter when they're reading. It doesn't seem like it, because if you flash the word cat on the screen, your eye would recognize it in it. In nanosecond, but that's how quick when it becomes a sight word. That's how quickly we read. But if you're guessing at words, that doesn't happen.
Loucresie Rupert MD: So you do in person teaching and you do online teaching. Are there ever kids that you're like, we don't think we can help them online. They need to do in person or like, are there things you look for to see who's a fit for each method?
Fay Van Vilet: So before starting tutoring, we know that good instruction is always assessment driven. So, we give it an assessment before they start tutoring. And in that situation, in that setting, we can tell what they're struggling with. If there are maybe things like ADHD, we will try different things like maybe a half hour session as opposed to a whole hour. But if they have a lot of attentional issues or handwriting issues, we do try to have them meet with their tutor in person.
Jamie Schwaba: And I should also state that we do have, I mean, the Reading Center also has tutors that do live in other cities you know, as well. So, and we have a pretty large, we have been expanding to the twin cities as well as Rochester, and we do have a couple of tutors that are in Winona and things like that. So, occasionally they will, teach it other sites as well.
Loucresie Rupert MD: And Jamie, I met you in the community through the art center here in town. My kids have taken a few classes. And I said that to say, do you ever,
Jamie Schwaba and you even sing?
Loucresie Rupert MD: Oh yeah, I took voice lessons there.
Jamie Schwaba: How could you forget?
Loucresie Rupert MD: I love singing, but I actually hate singing in front of people. And my teacher made me do it, but it was really cute. My son played the drums while I sang. It was super cute.
Jamie Schwaba: You have a beautiful voice. It was awesome. I loved it.
Loucresie Rupert MD: But what I, do you guys ever use? So again, we're talking about, and I know things aren't like super simple, like right brain means artistic, like you know, left brain is more analytical, like we used to say, but there is a little bit of truth to that, right?
So do you guys use some of that art stuff, like music and whatever kind of artistic things to help engage kids if they're harder to engage?
Fay Van Vilet: I think we really work hard at, at connecting. To the child's interest. Now, we are not trained in music or, you know, singing or anything like that, but we will find passages that they're interested.
We almost always try to start out the session talking with them. And before we start anything, we. But, you know, before we start teaching, we spend time getting to know them a little bit and, talking to them. When I start my sessions out, I, or in my sessions up, I'll be like, what's what you're doing this weekend.
And so they engage knowing that you care about them. And I think that is one of the most important things is if you genuinely as a person care about another person, it builds that trust, it builds respect. And it opens doors for learning.
Loucresie Rupert MD: Yeah. And that's one thing that I tell my kiddos, I call my patient, my kiddos.
So I tell my kiddos all the time is if you're seeing a therapist and you're not connecting to that therapist, it really doesn't matter if they're the quote unquote greatest therapist in the world. They're not going to be great for you. So if you're not connecting don't feel bad about asking for another one.
And the other thing is if what they're doing, like maybe you like them kind of as a person, but you don't feel it's helping, you know, speak up that what they're doing right now isn't working for you, because there's always more than one way to do things. So I try to empower, you know, my patients to know that like you need to connect and then if you, even if you do like them, but you feel like what's happening, isn't working, like let them know that so they can change tactics.
Fay Van Vilet:
Yeah. I think in our lessons, we try to say. Your diagnostic and prescriptive throughout the entire lesson, I have stopped a lesson like in the middle of it and said, let's just go do some enjoy reading, you know, that they would like to do, or I have stopped and we, we try to be very. You know, systematic and sequential, getting through those lessons.
But they, our children are human, and they have real issues that they are dealing with. I had one little boy, believe it or not, it's just hard to believe, he came in and he plunked down on the chair and he slammed his book down. I said, oh my, what's the matter? He said, my teacher swore at me. I said, what?
And so we didn't do anything except talk the entire session. And I told mom. You know, I'm not going to charge you for this. We just talked because we needed to understand that if he's struggling with a word, no one should ever, you know, be unkind to them about not being able to read, but help them.
Loucresie Rupert MD:
Teachers can absolutely be bullies.
Jamie Schwaba: I think that goes to way their kids. Oh yeah, yeah. And sometimes not even knowing, I mean, that obviously is, you know, but some of that shaming that comes along with, they think that someone's not trying.
Fay Van Vilet: Yeah. Yeah. Well, I think. I don't know what happened that day, but, and I know our teachers are in it because they have the best heart for those kiddos.
This was many years ago, and he just had a, it was a bad day. And so, to your point, we take time to let them be who they are .
Loucresie Rupert MD:
So if somebody was wanting to Just learn more about dyslexia. I was concerned they had dyslexia, you know, not specific to like coming to the reading center, but just what resources are out there about dyslexia and what would their next steps be?
Jamie Schwaba: Yeah, I mean, we do have quite a bit of information just on our website. They can also call the readings the reading center. org. is our website. So we do have a bunch of information about what dyslexia is. And it has some, you know, kind of question, like some markers that you might be looking for.
It has some articles to share. If you're wanting to look at I don't know if you've had a chance with Loucresie. I know we kind of mentioned it, but there is an excellent podcast. called Sold a Story, that's just kind of about by American Public Media, that is by Emily Hanford is the, I think that's right, Emily Hanford is the host on that.
I highly recommend it in understanding where we kind of got at, where schools are at and what the science of reading is, but there's, and there's also there's also another organization as well called the Dyslexia Alliance for Black Children is kind of a newer organization that's doing some wonderful that we've kind of, we're kind of a little bit of a partner with them, we've been working with them a little bit too, and they're doing some wonderful webinars and things like that.
Also dyslexia Minnesota, decoding dyslexia Minnesota. I'm not sure, I know you're, you also work also on the Wisconsin side. I don't know, is there a decoding dyslexia Wisconsin? I know that there's other states. Do you know Faye?
Fay Van Vilet: I don't know about Wisconsin, but yeah, Decoding Dyslexia Minnesota. And I do think the Reading League in Wisconsin does a phenomenal job. I listen to a lot of their webinars.
Jamie Schwaba: What about the IDA, the International Dyslexia Association?
Fay Van Vilet: The International Dyslexia Association is probably the leader in the area of dyslexia in, in its international, but in America for sure. And they have wonderful fact sheets on there. They have Conferences that you can go to. They're four day conferences. You can go to one day, two day, and you can do them online, which is fabulous because you can pick and choose from their huge array of topics to listen to and watch.
Loucresie Rupert MD: . So if someone wanted to get resources from you guys specifically from the reading center, what steps should they take?
Jamie Schwaba: Yeah, so the best thing would be you know, you can visit our website, which is, you know, the reading center.org or you can either email or give a phone call and then then you're connected with one of our program navigators that will answer your questions. We'll help you just they'll see you kind of where the last some questions about your student or or maybe it's yourself.
We do help adults as well. The majority of who we work with I would say as youth, but we do definitely work with adults as well. I think on top of that, we have training for teachers.
Fay Van Vilet: Yes. So if you ever want, if you are a teacher, and you're interested in this, you can go online and read about our teacher training program.
Jamie Schwaba: I was gonna say, and I, I think it's important to know too that we do offer scholarships for a need-based scholarships for both the training and the tutoring. And we really we are really making a conceited effort as well to make to really try to train a divorce diverse workforce because we are trying to serve a more diverse population through our partnerships that we're offering the free tutoring within schools. And so especially if you have people of color that are listening, that would be interested in the training. We really highly encourage that because we really want the students that we're helping to also see themselves in, in their tutors as well.
Loucresie Rupert MD: So what I was going to ask is learning how to read currently ,what they teach in school, which I'm, I'm honestly not sure what they teach anymore. But I do think I've heard that it's kind of moved away from a phonetics-based system. Is that true? And is that, have you seen that causing more issues for people that maybe had mild, you know, maybe had mild dyslexia and with the old way would have probably picked up maybe a little later But picked up because it was still phonetic based and now it seems like they're moving away from tha.t Have you, what do you guys know about that?
Fay Van Vilet: I guess Jamie. Do you wanna you can you want me to okay? Well in schools There is the reading wars are still alive that we initially talked about and for years and years there was whole language which is not it's also called bounce literacy and It promotes that guessing at words, or reading by pictures, and a lot of the cuing system.
Those are all things that indicate, if you have those in your school, that those are whole word. And there is, I think, in America has been captured by whole word and by bounce literacy for years and years, hence our reading scores. There's a small movement in the United States. It's, well, it's growing. It actually is. Taken hold in quite a few states to have what's called structured literacy and that is working with all those things we talked about, the phonetic approach, those five pillars, phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension, those five areas. for the science of reading, pulling those in and teaching them in just a very explicit, almost a way that they can't miss it.
And that's coming in America today.
Loucresie Rupert MD: So is hooked on phonics kind of developed as a push back to whole reading or were things more phonetically based?
Fay Van Vilet: Yeah, it is. It is more phonetically based. I think one of the programs that is being used a lot now, and that. There is some writing underwriting going for is called letters for teacher training.
And Jamie, do you want to talk a little bit about letters?
Jamie Schwaba: Yeah, I don't know all the ins and outs about it, but but I know there was actually some wonderful legislation that went through in the state of Minnesota. It is not our training. Because what we do, our training is about 125 hours. It's a really intense training that is excellent for someone that is going to tutor dyslexic students that need the most help with reading.
And it also our training you know, or for like a special ed teacher or a reading specialist, that that's kind of where our training you know, we are, are still of the capacity that, you know, we're training about 50 tutors a year. So, letters training is a little less intense as compared to ours, but it's a great thing that is for classroom teachers and it's still based on the science of reading.
So, it's not the Orton Gillingham approach that we use. But it still is based on the science of reading, and so we've been really supportive of that of that, of all the classroom teachers getting that .
Fay Van Vilet: And I just want to restate, Jamie, what you stated before. If anyone wants to know what's going on in America, listen to Soul the Story. It will tell you exactly what is happening in the schools and even help you understand what you can do about
Loucresie Rupert MD: it. It's just so, I mean at best, the general American has a 8th grade reading level, and I really think that's what the statistic say, but honestly, I think that's kind of pushing it. I would say it's probably lower than that.But so, obviously, what we're doing isn't working very well, right? Or what we have been doing is not working. Well, no,
Jamie Schwaba: according to like, the 2022 nations report card, it was only 33 percent of kids. Are reading at or above grade level and for fourth graders who are African American 17%. We're failing. Schools are failing, and I think it's, you know, the ones that are getting through are the ones that might be like you, who were maybe reading before they came in, and it came in easy for them. You know, then there's a few others that do okay with the, a little tiny bit of instruction. And then there's a good, you know, another 20 or, you know, another 40%, I think, is it, on that ladder, that really need pretty explicit instruction. And, you know, those that are dyslexic. Need that, you know, they need that big intervention or they're not going to make progress.
Loucresie Rupert MD: Just to go on a rant, you know, we blame the ability to read on parents. So often you didn't read to them enough when you were younger. You didn't, you know, my house was full of books as a child.
My house is full of books now. But my children's ability to catch on to read is definitely different than my ability. And I think me and my mom were similar in providing books. Yeah. And like I said I think I said, I don't know if I said on, on anyway, the point is my mom's not ashamed of this, but she's pretty sure that she's dyslexic and she actually loves to read, but she finally figured it out.
So again, books was all over the house, but I'm pretty sure it would have saved a lot of frustration for somebody to have picked up on that and, and caught that early and you know, most people aren't necessarily going to push through to the point of loving to read when it's hard to do honestly, I don't like to push through hard things.
Well, except for medical school, I did push through that. That's a lot. But I think most people are not like, yeah, most people are not like, this is hard. Let me keep doing it forever and ever, even though it's hard. I mean, that that's human. Like most people are not going to do that.
The other thing I want to ask about, so there's been a lot of talk about the dyslexia font. Does that really help make it easier for people with dyslexia to not necessarily to learn to read, but like not to get confused when after they learned and when they are reading?
Fay Van Vilet: There's no research that there's not there's not there hasn't been I can't say it is not or that it is because there just hasn't been solid research done regarding it. They have done studies on the brain using different fonts and how does the brain process a different font. And what they found is whether it's cursive, printing, typing, that the brain processes, process it to sound in the same way no matter what. type of font you use.
Loucresie Rupert MD: Anything that I didn't ask that you guys want the audience to know about the Reading Center or dyslexia in general?
Fay Van Vilet: Yes, that we can help you. That they're, and it's never too late. It's never too late. We've worked with, I'm working with an eighth grader and a ninth grader. We've worked with people who are in their 70s. We've worked with preschoolers.
Jamie Schwaba: And everybody can learn to read.
Fay Van Vilet: The earlier the better. Right.
Everybody can. 90, they say 95%. So yeah.
Loucresie Rupert MD: Well, thank you guys so much for joining me today. I learned a lot of good things. I always tell people my podcast is basically things I want to learn about and then other people get to come along for the ride. And we do focus, like we focus on You know, minority population.
So whether that's ethnic or disability or LGBTQ, you know, that's kind of what we focus on, but really it's, even though we're focusing on that, it's really things I want to learn about and there, and I'm always, I always love these interviews. So thank you for joining. Thank you. Thanks for all the information.
Thank you guys for moving the time. Yeah. Thank you. All right. Bye. Thank you for joining us on Friday night sound bites. I hope that we have fed your body, soul, mind and spirit, please continue to join us as we discuss topics that center voices that have historically been overlooked and suppressed. Let's tell our stories, learn from them and overcome.
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