Expert Speaks at MIT on Causes of Dyslexia
Landmark College Institute for Research and Training cosponsored Dr. Andrea Facoetti’s talk in February on why understanding the nuances of dyslexia is so important. Information in audio and visual forms is everywhere—think podcasts, digital readers, and YouTube—yet the need for children and adults to read words remains high. In classrooms, the workplace, on the web and in countless other environments, individuals must read in order to communicate and navigate effectively. Dyslexia impairs reading in 5-17 percent of the population, and, according to a preview of the Facoetti talk, “A student with dyslexia reads in one year the same number of words as a typically developing reader in two days.”
Why is Facoetti’s research significant? This groundbreaking research helps to explain the complex causes underlying reading disorders or dyslexia. Until recently, dyslexia was thought to emerge from a primary dysfunction in auditory processing, that is, in connecting print to speech or decoding. Current research has added another dimension to understanding dyslexia, particularly developmental dyslexia. Facoetti’s research points to the key role of visual-spatial attention in reading. His research has the potential to provide early and targeted intervention to those who have difficulty with reading because of challenges in visual attention. This approach to addressing dyslexia has, until recently largely, been ignored.
Landmark College and Landmark School, which are separate institutions cosponsored the Facoetti event, sharing the mission to educate bright learners with LD, including dyslexia. The motto of Landmark School, “Embracing potential, Empowering lives,” explains why these institutions support research leading to better education for students who learn differently. “New, research-based ideas about the underpinnings of dyslexia are important to Landmark College,” said College President Dr. Peter Eden. “We are committed to innovation and creative ideas that advance education for students who learn differently, and research like Facoetti’s informs our work.”
Dr. Andrea Facoetti is the director of the Developmental and Cognitive Neuroscience Lab at the University of Padova, Italy. His research examines the role of visual attention in dyslexia and autism spectrum disorder. This event was arranged by Dr. Matthew Schneps, director of the Laboratory for Visual Learning at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Co-sponsoring the event are Landmark College Institute for Research and Training, Landmark School, and the Gabrieli Lab at MIT.
Landmark College was the first institution of higher learning to pioneer college-level studies for students with dyslexia. Today, Landmark College, offering two and four-year degree options, a graduate-level certificate in universal design with technology integration, and summer programs for students who learn differently, is a global leader in integrated teaching methods for students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities, ADHD, and ASD. Students, faculty, and other professionals from all over the world are drawn to Landmark College for its innovative educational model—designed through research and practice to help all students who learn differently become confident, self-empowered, and independently successful learners. #
Manju Banerjee, Ph.D. is Vice-President and Director, Landmark College Institute for Research and Training and Dr. Solvegi Shmulsky is a faculty member at Landmark College.