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Early intervention in dyslexia can narrow achievement gap

Source: University of California – Davis

Waiting as long as third grade to address a child with dyslexia is no longer acceptable according to researchers at the University of California, Davis and Yale University.

Emilio Ferrer, a psychology professor at UC Davis, states that in order to reduce the achievement gap between typical readers and those with dyslexia, intervention early on is most important in the child’s life.

A study was done comparing the ability levels of typical readers and those with dyslexia from kindergarten through 12th grade and beyond. Mr. Ferrer, the lead author of the article in The Journal of Pediatrics, along with his Yale associates, Bennett and Sally Schwartz, discovered that over the twelve plus years, the dyslexic students never caught up with the typical reader. In addition, the low reading scores that the dyslexic students had as early as first grade, exemplified that the differences in ability were evident early on, and did not develop over time.

Subsequently, the researchers determined that early intervention could help the dyslexic reader close or narrow the achievement gap. They believe that reading programs should be offered as early as preschool when children are still developing the basic foundations for reading.

Difficulty processing speech may be an effect of dyslexia, not a cause

Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University have researched how procedural learning affects individuals with dyslexia. Procedural learning is how individuals develop skills through repeated performance and practice.

The experiment involved two groups to play an audio based video game; a control group and participants with dyslexia.
The players identified different characters in the game to different audio sounds. As the game progressed, the speed increased. The control group adapted to the speed, whereas the dyslexic participants were slower to adapt.

From this experiment, the Carnegie Mellon scientists surmise that learning complex auditory categories through procedural learning is hindered by dyslexia. This opens up a new avenue for research since most research is focused on neurological impairments and mapping sounds to visual letters. They are hoping that determining the relationship between procedural learning deficit and auditory category learning will help direct new approaches towards dyslexia interventions.

Kids With Dyslexia To Get More Educational Support

In October, 2015, the state of California has implemented a new state law that will help educators and parents alike to not only identify, but also provide services for students who have dyslexia. Tobie Meyer of Decoding Dyslexia California led the effort to pass this law.

The key element of the new law is that when a school is evaluating a child for special education, they need to consider phonological processing in diagnosing their needs. This is of import since there is a wide consensus that dyslexia is connected with reduced phonological processing.

In addition to the new California state law, there is a new US Senate Resolution that will call upon Congress, schools, and State and local educational agencies to recognize the educational implications of dyslexia, as well as designating October 2015 as “National Dyslexia Awareness Month”.