This project is evaluating programs to improve reading and writing skills in children who
have or are at risk for having reading disabilities. The project focuses on children who
are at-risk for low achievement in school and on children with dyslexia.
This study is part of a larger project to investigate the biological and educational
constraints operating in children with learning disabilities, with a focus on treatment and
links between assessment and treatment. The project evaluates prevention and treatment of
reading and writing disabilities, the genetic contribution to subtypes of dyslexia, the
relationship between brain variables and dyslexia, and the brain's response to treatment for
dyslexia. Genetic and brain imaging studies occur throughout the project.
During Year 1, at-risk readers in first grade were targeted for an intervention for mapping
spoken words onto written words. These students were compared to a control group. During
Year 2, the faster responders (those who reached grade level) and the slower responders
(those who were not yet at grade level) from Year 1 were compared. Slower responders
received additional treatment and comparisons were made again at the end of the year. The
additional treatment was also studied in Spanish-speaking students in first grade. During
Year 3, another group of at-risk, poor readers in second grade were randomized to either
word decoding treatment, comprehension treatment, a combined word decoding and comprehension
treatment, or a control treatment.
During Year 4, readers at risk for failing state standards in reading (decoding)
participated in an extended day program providing comprehensive reading instruction. The
students were compared to a control group. During Year 5, all students grades 4 to 9 took a
battery of morphological, reading, and writing tests. The testing was administered
throughout an entire school system.
During Year 6, older students with dyslexia were randomly assigned to phonological or
morphological reading training. Students were then compared on pre- and post-test
behavioral measures and brain activation results. During Year 7, students with dyslexia
were randomly assigned to an orthographic or morphological treatment for spelling. Students
underwent brain imaging before and after the intervention. Behavioral and brain activation
measures were also assessed. During Year 8, students with dyslexia underwent attention or
fluency training and writing training with and without attentional bridges. Only behavioral
measures were collected.
Recruitment of families for the family genetics study is ongoing. Recruitment for the brain
imaging-treatment studies will begin in 2004 when installation of new brain imaging
equipment is complete.
- Student in grades 1 to 9
- Underachieving in reading and writing
- English as first language
- Mental retardation
- Developmental disability such as autism or pervasive developmental disorder
- Brain damage or disease affecting brain function
- Severe language or psychiatric disorder