Street of Genes - Daring conference in Italy

Once again Sjan Verhoeven was asked to give two lectures on an Italian international conference on dyslexia in Modena. It has taken place at the end of November 2016. The conference was organized by Vittorio Melotti, a biologist and dyslexic, who wants to place dyslexia in a much more positive perspective than it is usually done. The conference was in Italian, but professional translators in English were available for us. Great service.

We enjoyed being there, if not only for the superb food!


Sjan Verhoeven, Vittorio Melotti, Johanna Blom and Giacomo Guaraldi on the evening after the conference before having a really good Italian meal.

Lots of Content!

The International  Conference on Dyslexia "Street of Genes" excels in diverse and daring speakers on the subject. It's a design which is much more progressive then we know in The Netherlands. It suited also the main theme of the conference: diversity!

Dyslexia from a philosophical perspective

One example is a professor philosophy, Furio Ferraresi, who tuned in on the development of our identity and how important it is for humans to recognize themselves into others. This is for people belonging to minorities extremely difficult, like dyslexics. Therefore it's not surprising many of them develop a low self esteem and damaged identity.

Dyslexia in the DSM-V ?

A psychiatrist, Ciro Ruggerini, advised against including dyslexia in the DSM-V for it reduces dyslexics to people who are not able to do something, in this case reading and/or writing. A label in the DSM-V stimulates smallness and reduces the possibilities for people to grow. It emphasizes the weaknesses and ignores their qualities. 

Celebrate Diversity !!!!


This is what almost all speakers (including Sjan, picture left) had in common: let not the norms of the majority set the standard, but celebrate people in their diversity and therefore their qualities. Even a very substantive speech like the one of Johanna Blom on letters and numbers ended with that conclusion. She emphasized also that having dyslexia is not a static situation: the brain is always able to learn. It's many times the environment that is the missing link in the guidance of dyslexics. It's how they are perceived.  Like Tamara Calzolari said in her speech: "let the dyslexics not be degraded to do only the simple and bad paid jobs, but value them for their qualities, for they have a lot." 

famous-italian-dyslexicsLook at for example at Nicola Tesla (inventor and electrical engineer), Guglielmo Marconi (wireless telegraph) and Leonardo Da Vinci (no introduction needed), famous Italian dyslexics. Who would not like to have them in their company? It is their differentness in their way of thinking that led to their great achievements!


In that respect there still is much to be gained in Italy, especially because of the tendency to look at what dyslexics cannot do instead of looking at their qualities and talents. The need is great to look at dyslexic role models and learn from them. At least Vittorio is certainly a great example to us with this wonderful event!

You can go there too. Another conference is coming at November 24-25 in 2017. Click here for more information. If you want to register, send an email to: .

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