Singular Minds
November 1, 2004 • Volume I, Issue 3
Prolinguistica Dyslexia Correction Center
Laura Zink de Diaz

Quotes to ponder:

In PSYCHOLOGY TODAY - Dec. 2004 - Page 58

"A Nation of Wimps" by Hara Estroff Marano and Karjean Levine -- Parents are going to ludicrous lengths to take the lumps and bumps out of life for their children. However well-intentioned, parental hyperconcern and microscrutiny have the net effect of making kids more fragile. That may be why the young are breaking down in record numbers.

The December issue isn't up at yet... I'm intrigued -- I'll be watching for it...

Public Talk on Dyslexia

Thank you to all who attended the talk on dyslexia on October 28! We had a nice crowd - large enough to persuade me that next time we should find a bigger room! And there will be a next time. The talk, titled "The Gift of Dyslexia" will be repeated on January 6, 2005. A second talk, "Creativity and Learning," is scheduled for January 27, 2005. Thursday's talk addressed the nature of dyslexia. "Creativity and Learning" will look at the importance of creativity for the dyslexic learner. As we approach those dates, I'll let you know the location.

A number of people asked me for copies of my speech, in order to pass along the information to friends and colleagues who were unable to attend. Initially, I was amenable to that idea, but rather than to give out the speech verbatim, I've decided to post the bullet points at the website. You will find that document in the Singular Minds Archive. I apologize, but it will take me a few days to get that information posted, so I appreciate your patience. If you are one of the people who asked for the speech and find that the information I post isn't sufficient, please give me a call (360-848-9792).

Good Stuff to Read

Jumping Into the Rigors of Learning
As Number of Full-Day Kindergartens Increases, Reading and Math Lessons Supplant Playtime
By Valerie Strauss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 26, 2004; Page A1

This is a pretty balanced article about the pros and cons of making Kindergarten more academic. I worry more about rushing children, about teaching them "facts" in isolation which they are not developmentally ready to understand. For me one of the most telling comments in the article is a quote from Debbie Fulcher an education specialist: "Reading is not saying words... It is understanding what is happening in the story." Research into reading is riddled with tests that focus on a child's ability to read words from lists, in isolation, rather than in context, and decisions about how to teach reading are made on the basis of this research, ignoring the accumulated experience and expertise of thousands of good teachers and parents. Another great quote is the final paragraph of the article:  "Teachers at the private Green Acres School in Rockville are adamant about cutting against the grain of the public school curriculum. At Green Acres, there is no stated goal to teach children to read; instead, the goal is to help them love to learn. Children move from block-building exercises to the indoor sand table to the outdoor playground to a table to do woodworking to the gym for games, and to numerous other activities -- all with lessons built in to promote literacy, number recognition and cooperation. "It doesn't mean there are no academics," said Thomas John, whose son, Evan, attends Green Acres. "There's just not the academic stress."" Guess what - I went to public school kindergarten and the description of Green Acres' K evokes my memories of it. Wouldn't it be nice if more kindergartens were like Green Acres...
Read it at:

The Problem With Some 'Smart' Toys: (Hint) Use Your Imagination

Parents want their children to succeed. And these days, toy store shelves are filled with products with names like Baby Einstein and Brainy Baby. The toy manufacturers do not come out and say it, but the clear implication is that babies who play with these toys may score some extra I.Q. points and get an early start on the road to an Ivy League college. Attuned to the increasing awareness among parents that the first three years are critical developmentally, companies are increasingly positioning their products as vital to optimizing intellectual growth. Child development experts, however, have their doubts. No studies exist, they point out, to show that any of the toys or videos give children an intellectual edge over playmates who stick to old-fashioned building blocks and baby dolls.
Read the rest at:

Food for thought

This item has been circulating on the internet for a while:

I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdgnieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid Aoccdrnig to a rscheearechr at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh? yaeh and I awlyas thought slpeling was ipmorantt!

As a former teacher I don't think the real significance of this little piece of information has to do with spelling. Spelling in English and every language I've studied (Spanish, French, Italian, Russian, Portuguese) has changed over the centuries, gradually tending towards simplification. Spelling is mostly a matter of convenience and consideration for one another - if we all spell pretty much the same way, we can understand each other better. What's interesting about the information from Cambridge is that it tells us quite a bit about how we read. When I look over the paragraph I can tell that I do indeed look at whole words. But I also make guesses or predictions based in part on how closely each word resembles one I know, and in part on what's likely to make sense grammatically as well as semantically. I also recognize that I only have  trouble reading the paragraph if I examine each word carefully - it's easier to read if I allow my eyes to look at the words as whole units and consciously do NOT look analytically. In fact, it's easiest to read if I read several words at a time, "chunking" the text, instead of one word at a time. As far as I'm concerned, this little item supports what I've always believed: that intensive phonics may make us "feel" like we're doing something really important for beginning readers, but in fact, readers need very little phonics instruction to get going, and later use phonics hardly at all.

Advice for Perplexed Parents of Late Talkers
By Jane E. Brody, New York Times

When your 18-month-old speaks fewer than 10 words, your 2-year-old uses no two-word combinations, or your 3-year-old's speech is unintelligible to anyone but the immediate family, should you worry? Is the child merely a slow talker who will eventually catch up to his or her peers, or does the child have a speech or language disorder in need of evaluation and therapy?
Read the rest at:

Asperger's Confounds Colleges
Publication Date: 2004-10-06
By Elizabeth F. Farrell
The Chronicle of Higher Education

By the eighth grade, Stephen M. Shore had taught himself to play every instrument in his school's band. But seven years later, during his junior year at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, a run-of-the-mill academic assignment stumped him. Mr. Shore, a double major in music and accounting, was assigned a research project on a topic of his choosing for his "Physics of Music" course. But after finding some books in the library and doing some reading, he felt lost. The syllabus had given him no specific instructions or intermediate deadlines. "I didn't know what to do with the materials I found," says Mr. Shore, who withdrew from the class to avoid failing it. "It didn't even occur to me to go to the professor and ask him for help." For an honor student, the experience was baffling: Why couldn't he tackle an assignment that his fellow students handled with ease? What Mr. Shore, now a doctoral candidate at Boston University, did not realize at the time was that his problem is related to a neurobiological disorder -- Asperger's syndrome, one of the milder forms of autism known as autistic spectrum disorders.
Read the rest of the article at:


Support Group

The Support Group for those dealing with a corrected or uncorrected dyslexic friend, relative or loved one will meet November 18 at 7:00 pm in the conference room at our office in Mount Vernon. If you haven't been to the office yet, there are directions and a map on the website at:

Or, give me a call at 360-848-9792 for verbal directions.

The purpose of the meeting is to exchange information, provide mutual support, and have a relaxing time. Please remember that this is an informal support group, a place to find people who are dealing with issues that may be similar to yours, whose experiences you may or may not find helpful. There is no fee to attend, although contributions to help cover the cost of coffee and snacks are always appreciated. As always, if you feel you need counseling, I encourage you to consult a qualified counselor.

November Clay Clinic

Our next clay night will be November 11  in the conference room at our office in Mount Vernon. We'll begin at 5:30 pm with PIZZA! and conversation.  Clay night can help if you've gotten off track and need to jump start your commitment to completing your symbol mastery. Or perhaps there are some words on the trigger list you've been putting off. Maybe you'd just like to work on clay in a different environment and see who else is doing symbol mastery... Just bring a beverage, some clay, even your support person, and we'll work on words from 6:00 to 7:00 pm. Please call (360-848-9792) or email ( to let us know you plan to attend -- so we can be sure we have enough pizza on hand! Cost: $15/person.

Changes at the website

Tutoring services are now listed in detail at the website. There is also an archive of Singular Minds back issues.

Have a glorious month!

Next Issue of Singular Minds: December 6, 2004

Got a topic you’d like to see addressed in Singular Minds? E-mail questions, proposals, letters, and/or stories to:

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