Month: August 2020

RIP Heroic “Salmon Swimmers”

                           “Salmon must swim upstream against the current or flow of the stream.”

Over the years, I have been sensitive to the impact that mentors or other inspirational figures have had on shaping me.  I have been particularly drawn to the “salmon swimmers,” those who go against the flow.

This week’s blog takes a departure from talking about children and their struggles, to acknowledge two giant salmon swimmers that recently passed away.  From totally unrelated fields, they each had a large impact on me, even though I never had the pleasure of knowing them personally.

The first was Dr. William Carey, a pediatrician from the Philadelphia area with an international reputation.

As noted in the recent obituary in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Dr. Carey was a champion of understanding a child’s temperament as a primary variable in terms of the child’s behavioral tendencies.

The obituary stated, “Dr. Carey pushed back against the assertions by medical professionals that unwelcome behavior in children could be traced mostly to brain function abnormalities.  He argued strongly against what he called the over-prescription of Ritalin (and other stimulants) to calm hyperactive children, including those with ADHD.”

As Dr. Carey said, “I think the current diagnosis of ADHD is a mess and has been wildly overdone.  It blames a variety of symptoms entirely on the child’s brain and ignores the child’s environment and the interaction with it.”

“Ways should be found,” he said, “to reduce the stressful interactions and to teach kids coping skills.”

In the same week, another hero I revered passed, the journalist,  Pete Hamill.

I became a huge fan of Pete’s columns during the Watergate era (yes, I’m that old) when he was a columnist for the New York Post (which was a very different paper than it is today).

Attending a high school in downtown Manhattan, we were allowed to leave the building during the lunch period and go wherever we wanted.

More often than not, I ended up in the local delicatessen (by myself, I might add) with my New York Post in hand.  That was my version of a slice of heaven – a Manhattan deli, the New York Post and Pete Hamill.  It didn’t get much better than that.

I was so enamored with Pete that I had the paper delivered  to my college, even though it arrived four or five days after its publication (probably by Pony Express) as a daily newspaper .

In my professional career, I have always thought of myself as a bit of a “salmon swimmer.”   While in no way comparing myself to these giants, among others they gave me fuel to go against the tide.

May they rest in peace.

Copyright, 2020
Questions or topics email Dr. Selznick.  Not in the South Jersey area? For a free 15 Minute Consultation, contact Dr. Selznick: email –

To purchase a signed copy of  “What To Do About Dyslexia: 25 Essential Concepts” & Dr. Selznick’s other books and to receive blog updates go to


Talking Reversals & #Dyslexia (That again!!!)

With about 460 or so blog posts in I know I am going to repeat myself.  I think it’s ok, though, as I keep hearing the same themes brought to me to me by parents and professionals about topics around dyslexia, reading struggles, ADD and anything related to the topic of school struggling.

The mythologies and misinformation abound.

Of course, one of the favored myths that is almost impossible to shake from our collective consciousness is what I call the “reversal thing,” when it comes to reading disability/dyslexia.

Not sure how this happened (I suspect it started with a show like “60 Minutes” back in the early 1980s), but somewhere along the line, we all were hypnotized.  No matter what your background or level of education chances are the “reversal thing” is deeply embedded in your thought process.

To show you how embedded this mythology is, as we approach Labor Day with family and friends (keeping appropriate social distance of course), try this little experiment.  Turn to your aunt, uncle or cousin and ask, “Hey, Uncle Bill, do you know what dyslexia is?”

I will make a $20 bet that Uncle Bill will say something like, “Isn’t that when (The answer always starts with “Isn’t that when…”) you read upside down and backwards?  You know, like the words and letters are all upside down or something, right.”

Uncle Bill is in good company.  The “reversal thing” is a dominating and ruling mythology.  We seem unable to shake it from our “mental tree.”

When you look to the widely accepted definition of dyslexia, it states the following in the first part of the definition:

Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities.

Where’s the word “reversal?”  Even though I only offered the first part of the definition, in no place in the more expanded definition can the word “reversal” be found.

Taking “reversal” out of it,    One way to think about dyslexia is to consider it as “reading inefficiency.” Or in the simple definition, it represents difficulty identifying words accurately and fluently.

For example, If I read “pricopinny” for  “porcupine” or “Sweden” for “seaweed,” that’s a problem.  The reading will be conducted very inefficiently and understanding will be greatly impacted.

 Takeaway Point

We will be discussing the other main mythologies in future blogs, but for now let’s try and loosen the “reversal thing” from your mental tree.  Listen to your child read.  Does he/she sound inefficient?  Are there lots of words like “pricopinny” substituting for real words like “porcupine?” If so, then you are probably in the realm of dyslexia, (although it is important to understand that there are other variables or factors to consider).

Copyright, 2020
Questions or topics email Dr. Selznick.  Not in the South Jersey area? For a free 15 Minute Consultation, contact Dr. Selznick: email –

To purchase a signed copy of  “What To Do About Dyslexia: 25 Essential Concepts” & Dr. Selznick’s other books and to receive blog updates go to



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