'Slow Readers, Fast Thinkers: It Takes a Dyslexic Brain' conference to be held Oct. 9

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Drs. Bennett and Sally Shaywitz

Why would one of America’s most renowned attorneys; a prominent cardiac surgeon and CEO of a major medical center; the creative head of one of Hollywood’s top talent agencies; an Academy Award-winning producer; and one of the nation’s leading economic forecasters all come together at the same brain meets real life conference?

They are all dyslexic and have a deep desire to help increase understanding of dyslexia, both at a scientific level and how it translates into the experience of those who are dyslexic. They will share their stories as part of the “Slow Readers, Fast Thinkers: It Takes a Dyslexic Brain” conference on Oct. 9 at 4 p.m. at the Edward P. Evans Hall of the Yale School of Management, 165 Whitney Ave., New Haven. Attendance at the conference is by invitation.

Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President Barack Obama, will deliver the opening remarks at the conference. She will be followed by physician scientists and elected members of the National Academy of Medicine, Drs. Sally and Bennett Shaywitz, co-directors of the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity, who will update the scientific advances in 21st century dyslexia research.

The five individuals are:

David Boies

The highly acclaimed attorney has represented clients in the nation’s landmark high profile cases, including, along with Ted Olson, challenging California’s Proposition 8 ban on gay marriage. In the 2000 election, he represented Al Gore in Bush vs. Gore in Florida. His clients have included the U.S. government, Napster, CBS and National Basketball Players Association.

Dr. Delos (Toby) Cosgrove

President and CEO of the renowned Cleveland Clinic, one of the most successful health-care organizations in the country, praised for its efficiency, outcomes and patient satisfaction. Cosgrove, a great surgical innovator, holds 30 patents for treating complex cardiac problems, especially for repairing leaking heart valves. 

Ari Emanuel

Co-CEO and co-founder of William Morris Endeavor-IMG, the famed Hollywood-based talent agency.  He has been described as the preeminent power player in Hollywood and characterized as rewriting the Hollywood script. Fortune named him to its “Business Person of the Year” list, referring to Emanuel as “one of the biggest guns in the consolidating entertainment business.”

Brian Grazer

Academy Award-winning producer of “A Beautiful Mind,” and also nominated for “Splash,” “Apollo 13,” and “Frost/Nixon.” His films and television series have been nominated for numerous Academy Awards and Emmys. Together with Ron Howard, Grazer co-founded Imagine Entertainment and their films have received many accolades, including their TV series, “Empire.” Grazer has been named one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World.”

Diane Swonk

Ranked among the top economic forecasters in the United States and the most influential women in business, Swonk is an advisor to the Federal Reserve Board and recently completed her second term serving on the Congressional Budget Office’s Panel of Economic Advisors.

Sally Shaywitz, the Audrey G. Ratner Professor in Learning Development, testified last year in Washington, D.C. at a hearing of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. She presented the scientific findings from research conducted with Bennett Shaywitz, the Charles and Helen Schwab Professor in Dyslexia and Learning Development, and their colleagues. Earlier this month, she spoke, too, about dyslexia at a Congressional Briefing sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Her comments below are taken from her Congressional testimony:

“Dyslexia offers a potential explanation and solution to our national epidemic of reading and school failure. We are now in the midst of a terrible epidemic of reading failure, one impacting all children, but particularly, large numbers of our most vulnerable children. For example, an alarming 50% of African-American children are below basic in 4th grade reading; this means that fully half of all African-American 4th grade boys and girls cannot carry out even the most basic reading functions. That is unacceptable in our society, particularly when the scientific knowledge exists to prevent this. These strong scientific findings must no longer be ignored; far too many children have and are being hurt by this refusal to acknowledge dyslexia.

“We must align education with 21st century science. In dyslexia, there is an abundance of high-quality scientific knowledge so that we have not a knowledge gap, but an action gap. It is our hope that hearing the depth and extent of the scientific knowledge of dyslexia will alert policy makers to act and to act with a sense of urgency.”

Sally Shaywitz is also the author of the best-selling trade book, “Overcoming Dyslexia,” which provides clear, practical, science-based information and advice for translating scientific progress into policy and practice.

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