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Taft Midway Driller - Taft, CA
  • The Readers’ Writers: Author, educator James R. Nuttall, PhD

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  • The grandson of a one-room schoolteacher and the son of a physician, many would tend to think that learning would be easy for James R. Nuttall. However, on a sixth-grade reading test it was discovered he was reading a mere 27 words a minute. In addition to being born legally blind, James was diagnosed with dyslexia. He decided not to surrender, but to fight, and to become educated. When he achieved the education he sought, earning a PhD, he worked within the Special Education Unit of the Michigan Department of Education for 30 years. Retired now, he continues to enlighten and educate those with dyslexia, and those who need to learn about the condition.
    His first book, co-authored by his wife Linda, is “Dyslexia and the iPad: Overcoming Dyslexia with Technology.” This is a book designed to explain what causes dyslexia and how, by merging tried and true methods with today’s technology, families and teachers can help those challenged with dyslexia to make strides in advancing their learning abilities. To that end, James constantly researches the latest technology as he believes every advantage should be used to its fullest capacity.
    Whether you are dyslexic, know someone who is, or just want to educate yourself about dyslexia, I recommend picking up a copy of Dr. Nuttall’s book, or, at a minimum, check out his blog.
    http://www.jamesnuttall.blogspot.com/
    Q) Why do you believe so many people know so little about dyslexia?
    A) Every day in America there are schoolchildren who do not succeed very well in school. We euphemistically called these children the lower third of the class. Year after year this lower third of the class slogs their way through school. We think that they do not read well because they are unmotivated or not very bright. But it turns out many of these children have dyslexia. Dyslexia is a neurologically based disability that affects one’s ability to read, write and spell. Many school officials think that dyslexia is a very rare condition. But it turns out that dyslexia is the most common disability in our society. Research studies which image the brain while children read have discovered that dyslexia is a neurological processing difference. Only recently has this scientific research begun to be recognized by school officials, teachers and parents. Fortunately, there are ways to help dyslexic students succeed in school. One of these approaches is called a multi-sensory approach to learning to read. The multi-sensory approach is called the Orton-Gillingham approach to learning to read. This approach of instruction is most often used by dyslexia centers.
    Q) What is it about the iPad that caught your attention?
    A) A second way to help dyslexic students and adults is to provide them with technology that can actually read books, newspapers, and magazines aloud. Most dyslexic students have no difficulty understanding what is read to them. They may struggle with deciphering print, however they do not struggle with language. For example, most dyslexic students who attend college have their textbooks read aloud to them. Apple’s iPad can read books, webpages, newspapers and magazines aloud to a dyslexic individual. The first machine which could read books aloud to dyslexic people was invented by Ray Kurzweil. This machine cost $50,000. But with the advances of technology, the iPad can now function as a reading machine. In order to get through college and graduate school I had to have individuals read all my books and journal articles to me. But now that I have an iPad which can read aloud to me, I can read everything to my heart’s content. I like to say that my iPad is a miracle for me as a dyslexic person. The Apple App Store also has a large number of apps that help teach reading to children. Additionally, the iPad can help with writing. The iPad allows a person to dictate what they want written. As a student dictates the iPad types out what they have said. This is a great help for dyslexic students.
    Page 2 of 2 - Q) What is the first step a parent should or can take when they suspect their child might be dyslexic?
    A) When a parent has a child who struggles to read, this is a heart-wrenching experience. Parents should know that there is help for their children. They can often take the children to a dyslexia center to be tested. This testing is often done by a psychologist who has been trained in diagnosing dyslexia. Again parents should understand that their child is intellectually bright and normal in every respect. Their child simply has a difference in how he or she processes written language for reading. With specialized instruction their child will learn to read. Their child can succeed in school. Also for further information contact the American Dyslexia Association. They can help you locate help for you and your child. You can also read Dyslexia and the iPad, which gives lots of advice on how the iPad can help your child. Dr. Nuttall is also writing a book explaining how the Amazon Kindle Fire can help dyslexic children and adults.
    Q) Any parting comments?
    A) If you have any questions please feel free to write or call me.
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