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UW Scholar Creates Black, Dyslexic Superhero

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“African American males are two to three times more likely to be overidentified with behavioral, emotional disorder versus having a learning disability,” says Dr. Shawn Anthony Robinson.

Dr. Robinson should know. As a Senior Research Associate for Wisconsin’s Equity and Inclusion Laboratory (Wei Lab) at UW-Madison, his research focuses on the intersection of race, giftedness and dyslexia.

Dr. Robinson’s life-long commitment to supporting students with dyslexia is not just professional. It is also very personal. He was unable to read until he turned 18.

It was not until he arrived at UW Oshkosh and under the leadership of his professor and mentor, Dr. Robert T. Nash at the UW Oshkosh’s Project Success Program, that he understood why.

Dr. Robinson had the learning disability known as Dyslexia, a reading disorder with makes it impossible to interpret spatial relationships or to integrate auditory and visual information. And that, according to Robinson, affects approximately 20 percent of students.

Today, at age 40, Dr. Robinson has a laundry list of academic accomplishments including a Bachelor of Science from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, a Masters of  Education from DePaul University and a PhD in Language and Literacy from Cardinal Stritch University.

With the hope of inspiring other kids with learning disabilities, Dr. Robinson shares his story in a  graphic novel he and this wife, Inshirah, authored titled, Dr. Dyslexia Dude, published in September 2018. The book is available at his website.

The book has received international acclaim from educators and renowned organizations like the National Dyslexia Association where Robinson serves on the national Board of Directors.

The National Dyslexia Association posted a review of the book on its Facebook page. It reads, “Doctor Dyslexia Dude is a compelling story of an African American boy who is a superhero with dyslexia. The authors Dr. Shawn and Inshirah Robinson take readers through a specific moment where the boy struggled with reading, avoided it, and had low self-esteem about his abilities, but flourished academically beyond all expectations. Doctor Dyslexia Dude wants to inspire students in Special Education to stay encouraged and know they can achieve!”

Robinson credits Inshirah with the novel’s concept.  “The book was originally tailored to a more rigorous academic audience,” says Robinson. “Inshirah said, ‘Kids are not going to read this stuff.’ She took a creative approach and changed it up.”

Proceeds from the sale of the book go to the International Dyslexia Association to support a scholarship Dr. Robinson and Inshirah want to start. For every 10,000 books sold, 20 percent of profits went to students in an underserved community to receive tutoring services for Dyslexia to make sure a family has the resources to get tutoring.

“The object is to make sure that families have the financial resources to get tutoring because if you do not have the capital, you are pretty much S.O.L. We are just trying to give back. The best way to give back is through a scholarship,” adds Robinson.

Written by Tracey Robertson

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