Converging evidence suggests that developmental dyslexia is a neurobiological disorder, characterized by deficits in the auditory, visual, and linguistic domains. In the longitudinal project of the Dutch Dyslexia Programme, 180 children with a familial risk of dyslexia (FR) and a comparison group of 120 children without FR (noFR) were followed from the age of 2 months up to 9 years. Children were assessed on (1) auditory, speech, and visual event-related potentials every half year between 2 and 41 months; (2) expressive and receptive language, motor development, behaviour problems, and home-literacy environment by questionnaires at the age of 2 and 3; (3) speech-language and cognitive development from 47 months onwards; and (4) preliteracy and subskills of reading, and reading development during kindergarten and Grades 2 and 3. With regard to precursors of reading disability, first analyses showed specific differences between FR and noFR children in neurophysiological, cognitive, and early language measures. Once reading tests administered from age 7 to 9 years were available, the children were divided into three groups: FR children with and without dyslexia, and controls. Analyses of the differences between reading groups yielded distinct profiles and developmental trajectories. On early speech and visual processing, and several cognitive measures, performance of the non-dyslexic FR group differed from the dyslexic FR group and controls, indicating continuity of the influence of familial risk. Parental reading and rapid naming skills appeared to indicate their offspring's degree of familial risk. Furthermore, on rapid naming and nonverbal IQ, the non-dyslexic FR group performed similarly to the controls, suggesting protective factors. There are indications of differences between the FR and control groups, irrespective of reading outcome. These results contribute to the distinction between the deficits correlated to dyslexia as a manifest reading disorder and deficits correlated to familial risk only.
Reading is vital to every aspect of modern life, exacerbated by reliance of the internet, email, and social media on the written medium. Developmental dyslexia (DD) characterizes a disorder in which the core deficit involves reading. Traditionally, DD is thought to be associated with a phonological impairment. However, recent evidence has begun to suggest that the reading impairment in some individuals is provoked by a visual processing deficit. In this paper, we present WISC‐IV data from more than 300 Italian children with a diagnosis of DD to investigate the manifestation of phonological and visual subtypes. Our results indicate the existence of two clusters of children with DD. In one cluster, the deficit was more pronounced in the phonological component, while both clusters were impaired in visual processing. These data indicate that DD may be an umbrella term that encompasses different profiles. From a theoretical perspective, our results demonstrate that dyslexia cannot be explained in terms of an isolated phonological deficit alone; visual impairment plays a crucial role. Moreover, general rather than specific accounts of DD are discussed.
Rehabilitation procedures recommended for developmental dyslexia (DD) are still not fully defined, and only few studies directly compare different types of training. This study compared a training (Reading Trainer) working on the reading impairment with one (Run the RAN) working on the rapid automatized naming (RAN) impairment, one of the main cognitive deficits associated with DD. Two groups of DD children ( N = 45) equivalent for age, sex, full IQ, and reading speed were trained either by Reading Trainer ( n = 21) or by Run the RAN ( n = 24); both trainings required an intensive home exercise, lasting 3 months. Both trainings showed significant improvements in reading speed and accuracy of passages and words. Bypassing the use of alphanumeric stimuli, but empowering the cognitive processes underlying reading, training RAN may be a valid tool in children with reading difficulties opening new perspectives for children with severe impairments or, even, at risk of reading difficulties.
Early intervention is known to reduce reading disabilities; however, treatment response is variable, and some students have persistent deficits that require intensive supports. This study examined the immediate and 1‐year outcomes of an individualized and intensive reading program for third grade students, which was delivered throughout the school day for an average of 189 hr of instruction over 3 months. These students' performances were compared with two comparison groups, including poor readers who received small group supports and good readers who did not have additional reading instruction. The intensive group showed an improvement in word recognition and decoding fluency immediately after the program and 1 year later, and there was a decrease in significant reading impairments from 62% before intervention to 35% at follow‐up. Furthermore, baseline reading, spelling, phonological awareness, and rapid naming skills were predictive of persistent reading deficits at a later time point. Although improvements in reading skills were shown, a significant gap between poor and good readers persisted in the third and fourth grades. This study illustrates the importance of a tertiary intensive reading program, but also the need for continuing supports.
Fluent reading in children relies on executive functions (EF). Recent research suggests that EF skills also affect arithmetic abilities. Children with reading difficulties (RD) experience deficits in EF. It is still unknown to what extent these EF deficits are the basis for both reading and arithmetic skills in children with RD compared with typical readers. To define the role of EF in reading and arithmetic in children with RD and typical readers, EF measures and reading and arithmetic fluency and non‐fluency measures were assessed in 8 to 12‐year‐old children with RD and age‐matched typical readers. Comparison and correlation analyses were performed within and between the two groups. Children with RD scored lower on reading and arithmetic fluency and non‐fluency tasks compared with typical readers. For both groups, fluency measures were lower than non‐fluency measures. Strong correlations were found within the entire study population between fluency measures and EF, as well as between non‐fluency measures and EF compared with mixed correlations observed for the groups separately. Fluency was related to subcomponents of EF expressed in both reading and arithmetic domains for the two groups. The role of each domain and comparison with non‐fluency results for each group are discussed.
Many students in higher education have undiagnosed reading disabilities (RDs), but there are few measures to screen for RD in this population. The aim of this study was to determine the ability of tasks that are sensitive to RDs—such as measures of phonemic awareness and working memory—to differentiate university students previously diagnosed with RDs from controls. Participants were university students with an RD ( n = 26), a clinical control group diagnosed with attention‐deficit/hyperactivity disorder ( n = 24), and neurotypical controls ( n = 44). Participants completed brief phonological processing and working memory tasks. The RD group scored significantly lower on all tasks than both control groups. The phonological processing tasks alone—without the working memory task—discriminated participants with RDs from controls with excellent sensitivity and specificity. A brief battery of phonemic tasks could be an effective screening instrument for persons with RDs on university campuses.
The procedural deficit hypothesis claims that impaired procedural learning is at least partly responsible for the deficits in learning to read seen in children with developmental dyslexia. This study used a reading ability‐matched design to examine group differences in both procedural and declarative learning. Both children with dyslexia and typically developing children demonstrated procedural learning on a serial reaction time task, although learning in the typically developing group increased at a greater rate towards the end of the task compared with children with dyslexia. However, these results do not provide strong evidence for the procedural deficit hypothesis, because poorer procedural learning in the group with dyslexia may reflect impairments in motor learning, rather than sequence specific procedural learning. In addition, neither group showed a relationship between procedural learning and reading ability.
Objective This quasi-experimental study reported the results of a structured literacy intervention programme designed for secondary school students of Year 7 to Year 9 with dyslexia. Students of the intervention group (n = 116) participated in 40-week sessions of small-size, classroom-based, and split-group intervention setting with 45-min daily lesson on both Chinese and English language compared with students in the control group who received normal classroom instructions (n = 98). Results Students in the intervention group outperformed the control groups in self-regulated learning scales, which indicated that there was positive change in students' behavioural and cognitive outcomes in learning. Although students demonstrated gains in phonetic skills, posttest results in academic achievement did not exhibit significant improvement when compared with their control group peers. Conclusion The findings provided some encouraging evidence of the effectiveness of intervention programme. Students that demonstrated gains in phonetic skills and improvement in behavioural and cognitive aspects required continuous intervention lessons to become a self-regulated learner, who would be self-motivated to improve methods of learning and adopt strategies for attaining academic goals. The study contributed to the literature by presenting one of the very first school-based, small-size, classroom-based, and split-group intervention programme for secondary school dyslexic students, which included teachers and students training on English and Chinese intervention content (phonological and literacy content), teaching curriculum integrated with school curriculum, and coteaching with school teachers in the mainstream classrooms, whereas most of the existing intervention programmes used pull-out approach involving the first language only.
Task-avoidant behaviour is correlated with reading skills and may have an impact on achieving educational and occupation goals in the long run. Longitudinal studies on task avoidance and its links to reading difficulties are non-existent, however. The present study examines changes and stability of task-avoidant behaviour from childhood (Grade 2), through adolescence (Grades 7 and 9), to early adulthood (age 20) among participants identified with (n = 46) and without dyslexia (n = 151) at Grade 2, with gender effects also examined. Results showed significant changes in task avoidance from Grade 2 to Grade 7 and from Grade 9 to age 20, wherein task avoidance increased from Grade 2 to Grade 9 and then decreased until age 20. Furthermore, low correlations obtained between task avoidance assessments over time indicated instability; thus, task avoidance at one point did not predict task avoidance later on. Differences between those with and without dyslexia emerged only at Grade 2, with higher task avoidance reported in the dyslexia group. Finally, no significant gender-related effects were found for task avoidance at any time point. Together, our findings imply that although task avoidance may be linked to dyslexia in the parental reports of the young study participants, this association does not persist in participants' self-reports at later ages.
The present study aimed to predict responsiveness to a sustained two‐phase reading and spelling intervention with a focus on declarative and procedural learning respectively in 122 second‐grade Dutch children with dyslexia. We related their responsiveness to intervention to precursor measures (phonological awareness, rapid automatized naming ability, letter knowledge, and verbal working memory) and related word and pseudoword reading and spelling outcomes of the sustained intervention to initial reading and spelling abilities, and first‐phase, initial treatment success. Results showed that children with dyslexia improved in reading accuracy and efficiency and in spelling skills during the two phases of the intervention although the gap with typical readers increased. In reading efficiency, rapid automatized naming, and in reading and spelling accuracy phoneme deletion predicted children's responsiveness to intervention. Additionally, children's initial reading abilities at the start of the intervention directly (and indirectly, via initial treatment success, in reading efficiency) predicted posttest outcomes. Responsiveness to intervention in spelling was predicted by phoneme deletion, and spelling at posttest was indirectly, via initial treatment success, predicted by children's initial spelling abilities. Finally, children's initial treatment success directly predicted reading efficiency and spelling outcomes at posttest.
The literature contains a great deal of research on Specific Learning Disorders (SpLDs). However, almost all of the studies related to SpLDs deal with the difficulties that said disorders cause during childhood or adolescence. An interest in adults with SpLDs is only recent, especially in university students like those in this study. In Italy, research on SpLDs in higher education is rather limited. This study aims to rectify this lack of data by making a brief analysis of the data on SpLDs prevalence in higher education and of the courses chosen by university students with SpLDs. Our sample consisted of 585 students with SpLDs enrolled at 19 public universities that communicated the number of students who contacted their offices of service for students with SpLDs. The prevalence of students with SpLDs in the higher education populations we sample had a mean of 0.13% ( SD = 0.11) and ranged from 0.03% to 0.48%. The data showed that the higher education faculties with the highest number of reported SpLDs students in our sample were Statistics, Agriculture, Veterinary Science, Education, and Architecture. It is important to analyse the trend in university enrolment of student with SpLDs to protect the right to education for people with SpLDs.
Recently, it has been suggested that developmental dyslexia (DD) is related to deficits in general mechanisms of statistical learning (SL). The aim of the current study was to explore these relations using a nonlinguistic auditory artificial grammar learning (A‐AGL) task. Most studies using AGL to explore the role of SL among readers with dyslexia used visual stimuli. The current study explored SL abilities among adults with DD using a nonlinguistic auditory task, because evidence suggests that SL is affected by the modality of stimuli. Forty‐eight (21 DD and 27 typically developed [TD]) adults participated in two A‐AGL tasks: implicit and explicit. The results showed a significant difference between the groups, as TD readers outperformed adults with DD. This difference in performance supports the SL deficit hypothesis among adults with dyslexia, although the causal relations between auditory SL and reading still require further examination. In addition, no difference was found between the implicit and explicit tasks, suggesting that unlike the visual AGL, participants with DD do not benefit from elevating attentional resources during A‐AGL.
Previous work has shown that inefficient attentional orienting is likely a causal factor for dyslexia; however, the nature of this attentional dysfunction remains unclear. The process of attentional orienting is characterized by an early facilitation effect, resulting from the successful engagement of attention, and a later inhibitory effect—frequently referred to as inhibition of return (IOR)—which encourages attentional disengagement and facilitates efficient visual sampling. The present study examined the time course of attentional orienting in dyslexic and typically developing children, by parametrically manipulating the cue‐target onset asynchronies in a spatial cueing task. Experiment 1 revealed an early facilitation effect in dyslexic children, suggesting that they have no issue in engaging attention to salient spatial locations. However, contrast to both age‐matched and reading level‐matched healthy controls, no reliable IOR effect was observed in dyslexic children, suggesting that they have difficulties in disengaging attention. When a second cue was presented to encourage attentional disengagement in Experiment 2, reliable IOR effects were observed in the same group of dyslexic children, and importantly, the onset time of IOR was comparable with that in healthy controls. These results clearly show a selective impairment of attentional disengagement in dyslexic children and provide a solid empirical basis for intervention programmes focusing on attentional shifting.
This study examined eye movements and comprehension of temporary syntactic ambiguities in individuals with dyslexia, as few studies have focused on sentence‐level comprehension in dyslexia. We tested 50 participants with dyslexia and 50 typically developing controls, in order to investigate (a) whether dyslexics have difficulty revising temporary syntactic misinterpretations and (b) underlying cognitive factors (i.e., working memory and processing speed) associated with eye movement differences and comprehension failures. In the sentence comprehension task, participants read subordinate‐main structures that were either ambiguous or unambiguous, and we also manipulated the type of verb contained in the subordinate clause (i.e., reflexive or optionally transitive). Results showed a main effect of group on comprehension, in which individuals with dyslexia showed poorer comprehension than typically developing readers. In addition, participants with dyslexia showed longer total reading times on the disambiguating region of syntactically ambiguous sentences. With respect to cognitive factors, working memory was more associated with group differences than was processing speed. Conclusions focus on sentence‐level syntactic processing issues in dyslexia (a previously under‐researched area) and the relationship between online and offline measures of syntactic ambiguity resolution.
There is a fundamental lack of understanding of how university students with a history of reading difficulties perform on various demanding literacy tasks. We compared the text generation skills, measured with timed summary writing and proofreading tasks, of university students with a history of reading difficulties to those of students with no such history. We further examined whether between‐group differences in text generation skills remained after controlling for transcription skills (spelling and handwriting fluency), word reading, and reading comprehension. Forty‐six university students with a history of reading difficulties were matched on age, gender, and non‐verbal intelligence to 46 students without this history. We found that the students with a history of reading difficulties performed poorer on both measures of text generation than students without this history. When differences in transcription skills, word reading, and reading comprehension were controlled, we found that only differences in timed summary writing remained significant. These results suggest that students with a history of reading difficulties experience challenges with specific aspects of text generation that are beyond what one would expect from their difficulties with transcription and word reading. We suggest that, if not addressed, text generation deficits are likely to create obstacles for academic success.
Previous research has treated high‐functioning dyslexic students as a homogeneous group. This study explores the clinical observation that dyslexic students attending university programmes differ from dyslexic students attending tertiary education professional programmes in some aspects of their literacy skills. Four groups, dyslexic university students ( n = 32), dyslexic students attending professional programmes ( n = 32), control university students ( n = 31), and control students from professional programmes ( n = 30), were assessed on measures of pseudoword reading, phonological choice, vocabulary, reading and spelling of morphologically complex single words, and reading aloud from a syntactically complex text. The results showed that the two dyslexic groups were comparable only on the phonological tasks, the dyslexic university students outperforming the professional programme students in all reading and spelling measures. Controlling vocabulary and number of semesters studied, the difference was no longer significant. Nevertheless, the analyses indicate that phonological deficits underlie the performance of professional programme students with dyslexia across a wide range of tasks, whereas university students with dyslexia may be able to limit the impact of phonological deficits to some extent by relying on some alternative cognitive attributes. Reading experience, orthographic learning, and working memory efficiency are discussed as possible explanations for this pattern of results.