tv Beyond the Headlines ABC July 17, 2016 4:30pm-5:01pm PDT
>> abc7 presents "beyond the headlines" with cheryl jennings. >> hi. my name is hailey. i'm 11 years old, and i'm dyslexic and in the 6th grade. dyslexia isn't a disease. you just learn differently. >> my name is joey zoretski. i'm 10 years old, and i'm in the 5th grade, and i have dyslexia. i am smart, and i can learn anything. >> you may not know about this stunning statistic. one in five kids has dyslexia. it's a brain-processing disorder that makes it hard for them to learn to read. now, just in california, there are more than 6 million children in school, so do the math -- 20% means more than 1.2 million students, potentially, with dyslexia. that's just in this state. many of those cases have gone undiagnosed. but a new law is aimed at changing that situation. welcome to "beyond the headlines." i'm cheryl jennings. joining us right now is somebody who has dyslexia, the lieutenant governor of
california, gavin newsom. >> thanks for having me. it's fun. >> thank you for being so open about this. >> yeah, no, it's interesting. the response has been interesting. i've always been pretty honest about the fact i have dyslexia, but no one really paid much attention to it until i became mayor. and actually, one of the first things i did as mayor, the first public events, was visiting kids with dyslexia in the school, and everyone was shocked to know that i had this learning disability, which if i look back, was probably the best thing that's ever happened to me. >> except a lot of kids would hear that and go, "for me, it's the worst thing. >> it was, and it was terrible growing up. >> well, take me back. >> i think, for me, i think it was two things. one, it was very difficult for me, in terms of my own academic experience. school was a terrible and terrorizing experience. i'll just be candid with you. spelling, reading, writing, i had speech therapy, i went through -- and i just, interestingly, in preparation to come here, i had not realized, i went to five schools in seven years. so i bounced around because, frankly, the schools, back then,
didn't really focus on it, and they didn't want to focus on it even after they discovered that they should be focusing on it. so, my mother, to her credit, kept bringing me to new environments. but i wanted to make the point, it wasn't just about me. it was about my mother. she was a single mom with another daughter -- my sister -- and she didn't have dyslexia, but the impact it had on her is remarkably pronounced. and i think that's just another part of the story. we talk about the impact of the kids and our own struggles, but the impact in the household is very, very challenging. >> well, it's tough because she's fighting for you, she wants you to succeed. you're coming home with bad grades and low self-esteem, and i'm sure that, just like every other kid, you didn't want anybody to call on you to read out loud. >> no. are you kidding? you sit in the back of the class -- i mean, back of the class with eyes down, back of the class, acting like you're doing something else so no one would ever look up at you. nothing more terrorizing, seriously, than going down the rows of desks, everyone's asked to read a chapter in a book, and you're just staring at the clock, going, "please, please,
please get this period to end so i don't have to stand up in front of everyone." and i'll never forget -- god as my witness -- mr. morris' class, i'll never forget that moment where the clock didn't strike at the 50 minute to the hour so i can get to the next period, and i had to stand up, and people start laughing, and it's one of those experiences -- i know it's almost cliché, right? but it's so indelible in my life because it was sort of an exp-- i was exposed to the rest of the classroom. >> what did they say? >> just laughed at me. i literally couldn't read. i'm shaking, and i'm trying to read, and i can't, and, you know, they're laughing, and i put the stuff down, and if i could run out of class, i would, but i remember i didn't. and it was just one of those horrible experiences. and, you know, you feel dumb, you feel isolated, people call you dumb. interesting for me, cheryl, i found out about it -- my mother hid it from me for years. i was diagnosed as dyslexic, but she didn't want to stigmatize me, and i appreciate that in hindsight. i lost her 15 years ago, so i
don't have the benefit of talking to her about it today. but she didn't want to. and i remember coming home, and i found out i had dyslexia. i just thought i was, frankly, not that smart and was struggling and thought, you know, something was wrong with me. >> before we run out of time, i've got to ask you, how does this affect you now? do you read speeches? >> yeah, i rarely read speeches, and if i do, they're the worst things i ever do, 'cause they're terrible. a teleprompter is easier than looking down at a piece of paper and looking up, 'cause i'll lose my place. when i read, i underline. if i read the newspaper, i underline. when i read books -- don't ever lend me a book, because i will underline it. and what i do -- and this is the gift, i think, of dyslexia. at the end of the day -- i know the word "gift" is a controversial one because it's really ways of overcompensating become gifts. they become attributes. they become advantages. but what i'm able to do is, after i read something, i have to read it again. and in reading it again, then it becomes indelible in my mind. i'm able to take it away from the written word, and i'm able to connect it in a way where my memory is strengthened.
there's so many wonderful things that come from it -- being creative, learning how to fail, because that becomes an expertise of those that are struggling with learning disabilities. and understanding the importance of failure, in terms of ultimate outcome and success in life. and now, finally, in california, because of extraordinary leadership, decoding dyslexia, and other leaders, we have a bill that allows us to have a protocol in california, finally, to have our teachers and others take a look and begin to assess students in california that may suffer from the same struggles. >> final question -- you're a dad -- four kids in your life. >> yeah. >> you worried about this? >> i'm not worried about it, but i'm focused on it. if our kids are -- just turned 6 and 4, 2, and a brand-new baby -- if they're dyslexic, fabulous. and that just allows us to have the opportunity to see them grow a little differently. and i'm for different. i'm for people being a little bit, you know -- i'm for authenticity. i'm for personality. >> you are a message of hope,
>> welcome back to "beyond the headlines." joining me right now, 11-year-old sophia granucci and her mother, lisa granucci. and thank you for coming all the way -- an hour and a half drive each way. so thank you for giving us that gift of your time. and, sophia, i saw your video that went viral about something you wanted your teacher to know. so tell me about -- first of all, tell me about the video. >> well, that video would so my teacher would know that i have dyslexia. and so i wouldn't be going into her classroom and she wouldn't be able to know, and so she can help me, and i can have extra time on tests and be able to listen to my books and do -- have a special class during time -- >> the school hours. >> school's hours, yes. >> now, when did you know that you had a problem with reading? were you "little" little?
>> 2nd to 3rd grade. i got diagnosed in 3rd grade. and at 2nd grade, i knew that there was something wrong, so i -- everyone was getting a's and b's, and i was getting d's and f's. >> oof. >> so, um -- >> was that frustrating for you? >> yes, very frustrating. >> how did you feel about yourself at that time? >> well, i felt -- i felt really, like, disappointed sometimes because i knew that i could do it. i felt like i just had to try a lot harder. >> mm-hmm. and, mom, you're watching her struggle. >> yeah. >> wow. so, as you're listening to her, take me back to those early days. >> you know, i had some concern, and every year, i would talk to the teachers, and i said, "what can we do? what can we do?" "just keep reading to her, just have her keep working harder," and i just thought they were the professionals and they were telling us what we needed to do, so i was telling her, "you just
got to work harder. you just got to try harder." and looking back now, and i think about how frustrating -- the tears at the homework table -- i feel awful about it. if i just would've known earlier... >> but who would know? i mean, it's not something we talk about. >> right. >> and so then, what happened to lead you to get a diagnosis? >> well, just after not getting the answers -- and i knew there was something going on, and i spoke to a friend whose daughter had dyslexia, and so she led me to a private psychologist who evaluated her. and she was evaluated with the school prior, but they said that she was okay and she wasn't far enough behind. she needed to be three years behind in reading. >> oh, no! three years behind? >> yeah, and she was only two years behind, so they said, "she'll be okay. continue." and then i went to a private psychologist, and then they, hands down, diagnosed her with dyslexia. >> wow. so when you heard that word, sophia, what did you think? did it make you feel better? >> well, i didn't know what that was, so i thought that i'd have to go into a special classroom,
i had to have new friends and i wouldn't -- i would get, like, special, like, time after school and i would have to do more homework, and it'd be harder. so i was kind of nervous. but then when i figured out -- when my mom told me what it was, i felt better, and i knew, "okay, this is gonna be -- i'll still be in the same classroom. i'm just gonna have a little extra help, and i won't have to, like, go to a whole different classroom." >> are you doing better now? >> yes. >> how well? >> well, now i'm getting a's and b's instead of d's and f's. so i think that was just because i needed someone to read it to me, so -- and help get -- let me have extra time. and now i'm getting a's and b's. >> oh, congratulations! >> thank you. >> so, we have about 30 seconds left. the youtube video -- you've heard from people all over the world. this is not just a california or united states problem. so, who have you heard from? >> we've heard from all over -- a lot of people from australia, china, all over the country,
canada. it's pretty impressive. every day, i turn on my e-mail, and we have a new comment about how inspiring it has been for them and how they're gonna try harder and thanking sophia for making the video for them. >> sophia, what do you want to tell kids out there in 10 seconds? >> i want to tell kids that dyslexia -- i have it, too. so it's not like it's just you. >> okay, you're not alone. right? >> yeah. >> thank you so much for sharing your message. all right. and we have a lot more to talk about. coming up, you're going to meet the mother of a dyslexic child who decided that she had to take her fight to the state legislature to get services for children like her son. also, you're going to meet a doctor considered to be the guru of dyslexia, working on science-based programs for decades. stay with us. we'll be right back.
>> welcome back. we're talking about a brain-processing disorder called dyslexia, which frequently and sadly goes undiagnosed. our guests today are dr. sally shaywitz. she is author of the book "overcoming dyslexia." and tobie meyer, who led the fight in sacramento to get a law passed to acknowledge dyslexia in the education code. so, thank you both for being here. this is your book. you've got another one coming out. this is "overcoming dyslexia," and the whole point of this show is to help people and talk about it. so, dr. shaywitz, let me start with you. you and your husband have been working on this issue for
decades. why is this your passion? >> well, dyslexia is our passion because we know it affects so many people -- 1 in 5, as you had mentioned. but as i testified to congress a year ago -- we always need more information, but in the case of dyslexia, we have enough knowledge to do better. so what we have is an action gap, not a knowledge gap. and we need to use the 21st-century knowledge we have, and we have to make sure education is aligned with 21st-century science. and, basically, dyslexia is very prevalent. we study the brain. we know where it is in the brain. we know so much about it, and yet kids -- we're gonna hear -- go struggling. teachers don't use the word. that should change now in california. >> and you had pointed to tobie, and you're absolutely right. 'cause you had this struggle with your son, so tell me about that. >> yes, i did.
when he was in the 1st grade, he became a different child. i couldn't get him out of the car in the morning to go to class. and, finally, one day, he told me he was not smart, and he would lay his head down on the table in class. we asked the school to assess him for a learning disability, and they found him ineligible. we hired a neuropsychologist and then eventually an attorney to secure services for my son. but this whole process cost us thousands of dollars in loans and a full school year at my child's expense. >> oh, my goodness. now, you've studied this, and fortunately, they were able to take out loans, but there are so many people you work with who are not -- that don't have any resources. >> and that's so true. and if you look at, for example, the nation's report card, you find that there's 20% to 30% of children who are not at basic. and if you look at african-american, latino, native americans, that's even far larger. so we have an epidemic here...
>> oh, my gosh. >> ...of dyslexia. and yet attention's not being paid. there are some schools, but they're often very expensive independent schools. if we could have, for example, public charter schools for dyslexia, that would make a huge, huge difference, because these children -- and we've studied enough of the dyslexic -- they're smart. they want to learn. they went to school with their mothers and fathers -- "you're gonna learn to read." and we're failing them. >> well, that is -- it's so sad, but you talked about action. you testified before congress. you worked with the california legislature, you and a team of moms and dads and kids. tell me about that. >> yes, that is correct. >> jim frazier, the assemblyman. >> yes, jim frazier decided that he would go ahead and author a bill that decoding dyslexia california would sponsor, and that bill was assembly bill 1369. and it had over 6,500 parents and children -- dyslexic children -- and organizations
from all over california that lobbied for the support of the bill. and it passed unanimously through all the houses and eventually signed into law. >> two parts, right? 2016, 2017. >> that's correct. two different laws. there's phonological processing, which took effect on january 1, 2016. and the second law is that the state is required to develop program guidelines, and that will become effective by the academic school year 2017-2018. >> and, dr. shaywitz, we have about 10 seconds left. what is your advice to parents of dyslexic kids? >> don't wait. we have a paper published just this fall that showed the achievement gap is present already in 1st grade, and it doesn't go away. so, parents, don't be afraid. and another thing parents are afraid of -- if your child has it, he or she has it, getting the diagnosis is a benefit. it's not gonna make the child dyslexic. >> it'll be a benefit. >> but it'll bring benefits. and the child will know that he or she is not stupid.
>> oh, that's the best. thank you both so much for all of your -- for teaching me about this so we could share it with other people. all right, we do have to take a break. we're going to put all of this resource information -- and i told you about "overcoming dyslexia." also, i got to show you the coolest hat ever. "got dyslexia? you're in good company." so remember that. when we come back, you're going to meet a family who fought for years to get the help they needed for their teenage son who had a 3.5 grade-point average but couldn't read higher than 3rd-grade level. we're also gonna take you on a tour of the new dyslexic research center in san francisco at ucsf mission bay and hear from the neuroscientist involved in a pilot project on reading disorders.
>> welcome back to "beyond the headlines." we're continuing our discussion on dyslexia. now, you've heard that a new law is going into effect in the education code to acknowledge the reading disorder dyslexia in order to get services to the children who need them. now, it comes too late for the courageous students who fought
to graduate. i want you to meet one of those students who is a success thanks to his dedicated mother and his own hard work. >> when i was, like, in school reading, i knew it was difficult. >> 18-year-old durrell struggled to learn to read, but he's worked hard and is excited about graduating from high school. he's an artist, creating his own comic book. he wants to be an engineer and maybe own a video-game company after college. but it's been a difficult journey to get this far. durrell learns differently than some children. his mom noticed it when durrell was in 2nd grade. he was put in special-education classes, and she kept fighting to find out why he had trouble learning. >> the school would say, "go to the doctor." the doctor would say, "the school." >> her battle continued as durrell kept being moved forward through school and into high school, never learning how to read above a 3rd-grade level in spite of his intelligence and very hard work. >> so, the whole 9th-grade year, 10th-grade year, this boy is
getting 3.85, 3.5... but he can't read. >> finally, a doctor diagnosed durrell with dyslexia, a brain-processing disorder. donna learned from that doctor about an agency called dredf that helps families like hers. dredf stands for the disability rights education & defense fund. eventually, dredf referred the case out for legal action. the case was resolved outside of court, and while the end result is confidential, donna says durrell is finally getting the help he has always needed. >> most parents that come to me come to me after years and years of begging for help, just like donna campbell. she had been fighting for her son. he was in incredibly hard courses with very, very driven academic achievers. he is one of them. he's very bright. he is incredible. but he couldn't read. generally speaking, how any sort of legal action against a school
district can help these students is by gaining services. so there's something called compensatory education to compensate for services that should have been provided that were not provided. >> durrell goes to tutoring classes early in the morning and after school. he also turns in extra work to make up for low test scores. he volunteers at a charity. he's working hard to be a success and a good role model for others like him. >> never give up and always fight for what you believe in, because you could do anything when you set your mind to it. >> keep fighting for your child. i mean, if you see something wrong, just try to find the help. >> wow. that is an amazing family. well, joining me in the studio right now is dr. fumiko hoeft, who works at the dyslexic center at ucsf mission bay in san francisco. and i want to thank you so much for being here. you were gracious enough to take us on a tour of the new center. it was very exciting. we saw your son tyga in there. >> yes.
>> it's kind of like the control kit, i guess. so, tell me about your sons. tell me about tyga. >> okay. so, i have two sons, one who is tyga, who's a 7-year-old who reads like an adult, like i do or any other adult. the other one, who struggles to acquire the most basic skills, such as sounding out letters and learning to read. and what we want to do is learn how this is happening in each child with dyslexia. so, the brain mechanism's underlying dyslexia, how we can help each child, utilizing their strengths and not just addressing their weaknesses, because these are different for each child. and also, how we can identify each child early so we can prevent unnecessary failure from happening. >> yeah, you heard some of the parents saying that you have to be three years behind before they're gonna get any help. that's just scandalous. that should not happen. >> yeah. so that is what we want to address. and so ucsf's dyslexic center was established very recently with honorary chair gavin newsom as honorary chair and in
partnership with charles armstrong school, which is a preeminent dyslexia school in the bay area. >> everybody there is dyslexic? >> yes. >> so they're in good company. >> they are the fortunate people who have absolutely amazing teachers and peers. and what we're trying to do is, we combine cutting-edge technology and genetics and brain imaging, and we don't study just reading, but we study a lot of other things, from musical processing, speech processing, language, attention, visual-spatial skills, social emotional skills -- all the important pieces for a child to succeed in this school. and what we're trying to do is identify each child's profile, which is different for each child, as we all know, and what i call a neural fingerprint. >> and now, what do you do with that information? how is that gonna be implemented into action? >> so, what we want to do is not just do research for the sake of research, but we want to bring it rapidly and directly into the classroom. so, we take each child's
profile so we can identify their strengths as well as weaknesses so we can address and maximize and optimize their chances to succeed. and so one of the projects, for example, that we're doing is developing an app utilizing these neuroscientific findings so that we can translate it and bring it to under-resourced areas so that we don't have to have a ucsf dyslexia center in your neighborhood but so everyone can participate and benefit. >> all right, we're gonna look forward to those apps. dr. hoeft, thank you so much. and thank you for letting me go on that tour. we're gonna share that with our viewers. >> all right. thank you very much for having me. >> all right. and that is it for today's show. we could do hours on this. for more information about today's program and the resources where you live, just go to our website -- abc7news.com/community. we're also on facebook at abc7communityaffairs. follow me on twitter @cherylabc7. i'm cheryl jennings. have a great week. we'll see you next time. ♪
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