Sally E Shaywitz, MD

Audrey G. Ratner Professor of Pediatrics (Neurology); Co-Director, Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity

Research Interests

Dyslexia; Epidemiology; Neurobiology; Neurology; Pediatrics

Research Organizations

Pediatric Neurology

Pediatrics: Pediatric Neurology

Faculty Research

Office of Cooperative Research

Research Summary

Dr. Shaywitz’ ongoing neurobiological and longitudinal epidemiological studies track a population-based cohort from kindergarten entry to mature adulthood and have provided cutting-edge, contemporary knowledge of the prevalence, gender composition, universality and precursors, persistence and long-term outcome, including economic consequences of dyslexia in adults. Dyslexia is highly prevalent, affecting one in five and represents over 80% of all learning disabilities. Dr. Shaywitz is currently studying reading and dyslexia in disadvantaged students in New Haven and in students attending a public charter school specialized for dyslexia. In a recent publication, she reported that the “Achievement Gap in Reading is Present as Early as First Grade and Persists Through Adolescence.” This finding inspired her to develop a new instrument, the Shaywitz DyslexiaScreenTM (Pearson), to enable the evidence-based early screening of children for dyslexia by their own teachers. Dr. Shaywitz is the author of over 250 scientific articles and chapters, as well as the award-winning book, Overcoming Dyslexia (Alfred Knopf, 2003, Vintage, 2005).

Dr. Shaywitz is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine within the National Academies. She is annually selected as one of the Best Doctors in America. Her awards include, among others, an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Williams College; the Townsend Harris Medal of the City College of New York; and the Distinguished Alumnus Award of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She has served on the Congressionally-mandated National Reading Panel and the Committee to Prevent Reading Difficulties in Young Children of the National Research Council and, by Presidential appointment (President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama) on the National Board of the Institute for Education Sciences of the U.S. Department of Education and on the Advisory Council of the National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke (NINDS). She has also spoken at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Dr. Shaywitz is a Trustee of the Park Century School and serves on the Advisory Board of the Adult Literacy X Prize. She served on the National Research Council Committee on Women in Science and Engineering and as Co-Chair, National Research Council Committee on Gender Differences in the Careers of Science, Engineering and Mathematics Faculty.

Dr. Shaywitz recently testified before the U.S. Senate HELP Committee on “Dyslexia: An Explanation and Potential Solution to the Reading Crisis in Education and before the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology on the “Science of Dyslexia" and on behalf of the AAAS on Dyslexia to the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. In her testimonies, Dr. Shaywitz points out that rather than a knowledge gap, in dyslexia there is an action gap. We must take action to implement the deep knowledge we have of dyslexia and ensure that this knowledge is translated into policy and practice.


Extensive Research Description

Dr. Shaywitz’ ongoing neurobiological and longitudinal epidemiological studies track a population-based cohort from kindergarten entry to mature adulthood and have provided cutting-edge, contemporary knowledge of the prevalence, gender composition, universality and precursors, persistence and long-term outcome, including economic consequences of dyslexia in adults. Dyslexia is highly prevalent, affecting one in five and represents over 80% of all learning disabilities. Dr. Shaywitz is currently studying reading and dyslexia in disadvantaged students in New Haven and in students attending a public charter school specialized for dyslexia. In a recent publication, she reported that the “Achievement Gap in Reading is Present as Early as First Grade and Persists Through Adolescence.” This finding inspired her to develop a new instrument, the Shaywitz DyslexiaScreenTM (Pearson), to enable the evidence-based early screening of children for dyslexia by their own teachers. Dr. Shaywitz is the author of over 250 scientific articles and chapters, as well as the award-winning book, Overcoming Dyslexia (Alfred Knopf, 2003, Vintage, 2005).

Dr. Shaywitz is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine within the National Academies. She is annually selected as one of the Best Doctors in America. Her awards include, among others, an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Williams College; the Townsend Harris Medal of the City College of New York; and the Distinguished Alumnus Award of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She has served on the Congressionally-mandated National Reading Panel and the Committee to Prevent Reading Difficulties in Young Children of the National Research Council and, by Presidential appointment (President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama) on the National Board of the Institute for Education Sciences of the U.S. Department of Education and on the Advisory Council of the National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke (NINDS). She has also spoken at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Dr. Shaywitz is a Trustee of the Park Century School and serves on the Advisory Board of the Adult Literacy X Prize. She served on the National Research Council Committee on Women in Science and Engineering and as Co-Chair, National Research Council Committee on Gender Differences in the Careers of Science, Engineering and Mathematics Faculty.

Dr. Shaywitz recently testified before the U.S. Senate HELP Committee on “Dyslexia: An Explanation and Potential Solution to the Reading Crisis in Education and before the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology on the “Science of Dyslexia” and on behalf of the AAAS on Dyslexia to the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.In her testimonies, Dr. Shaywitz points out that rather than a knowledge gap, in dyslexia there is an action gap. We must take action to implement the deep knowledge we have of dyslexia and ensure that this knowledge is translated into policy and practice.

Selected Publications

  • Overcoming Dyslexia: A new and complete science-based program for reading problems at any level Overcoming Dyslexia: A new and complete science-based program for reading problems at any level. New York: NY, Alfred A. Knopf, 2003; Vintage, 2005.
  • Paying attention to reading: the neurobiology of reading and dyslexia.

    Paying attention to reading: the neurobiology of reading and dyslexia. Shaywitz SE, Shaywitz BA. Dev Psychopathol. 2008 Fall;20(4):1329-49.

  • The education of dyslexic children from childhood to young adulthood.

    The education of dyslexic children from childhood to young adulthood. Shaywitz SE, Morris R, Shaywitz BA. Annu Rev Psychol. 2008;59:451-75.

  • Longitudinal models of developmental dynamics between reading and cognition from childhood to adolescence

    Longitudinal models of developmental dynamics between reading and cognition from childhood to adolescence. Ferrer E, McArdle JJ, Shaywitz BA, Holahan JM, Marchione K, Shaywitz SE. Dev Psychol. 2007 Nov;43(6):1460-73.

  • Uncoupling of Reading and IQ Over Time: Empirical Evidence for a Definition of Dyslexia. Ferrer, E., Shaywitz, B.A., Holahan, J.M., Marchone, K., and Shaywitz, S.E., Uncoupling of Reading and IQ Over Time: Empirical Evidence for a Definition of Dyslexia. Psychological Science, 21(1) 93–101, 2010.
  • Reading Outcomes of Children and Adolescents with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Dyslexia Following Treatment with Atomoxetine. Shaywitz, BA, Williams, DW, Fox, BK, Wietecha, LA. Reading Outcomes of Children and Adolescents with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Dyslexia Following Treatment with Atomoxetine. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, 24 (8) 419-425, 2014.
  • Achievement Gap in Reading Is Present as Early as First Grade and Persists through Adolescence, Ferrer, E., Shaywitz, B.A., Holahan, J.M., Marchone, K., Michaels, R. and Shaywitz, S.E., Achievement Gap in Reading Is Present as Early as First Grade and Persists through Adolescence, J Pediatr 167:1121-5, 2015.
  • How should medical schools respond to students with dyslexia? Romberg, F., Shaywitz, B.A., and Shaywitz, S.E. How should medical schools respond to students with dyslexia? AMA Journal of Ethics 18 (10): 975-984, 2016.
  • Effect of Atomoxetine Treatment on Reading and Phonological Skills in Children with Dyslexia or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Comorbid Dyslexia in a Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Shaywitz, S., Shaywitz, B., Wietecha, L., Wigal, S., McBurnett, K., Williams, D., Kronenberger, W.G., Hooper, S.R. Effect of Atomoxetine Treatment on Reading and Phonological Skills in Children with Dyslexia or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Comorbid Dyslexia in a Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Journal Of Child And Adolescent Psychopharmacology, 2017, 27(1), 19-28.
  • Evaluating Willingness to Pay as a Measure of the Impact of Dyslexia in Adults, Herrera-Araujo, D., Shaywitz, B.A., Holahan, J.M., Marchione, K.E., Michaels, R., Shaywitz, S.E. Hammitt J.K. Evaluating Willingness to Pay as a Measure of the Impact of Dyslexia in Adults, J. Benefit Cost Anal. 2017, 8(1) 24-48, doi:10.1017/bca.2017.3

Full List of PubMed Publications

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Contact Info

Sally E Shaywitz, MD
Mailing Address
PediatricsYale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity
129 York St.

New Haven, CT 06511

The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity