Much work remains to be done to improve the lives of children with dyslexia

April 16, 2012

Scientific understanding and medical treatments for dyslexia have advanced over the past 5 years, but much work remains to be done to fully understand the causes of dyslexia and to improve the lives of children who struggle to learn to read, according to a Seminar published Online First in The Lancet. Indeed, most children are only diagnosed with dyslexia after they have experienced serious difficulties in school, at a time when it is much harder for them to master new skills, and this could be preventing children with dyslexia from achieving the best outcomes.

"Professionals should not wait until children are formally diagnosed with dyslexia or experience repeated failures before implementation of reading treatment, because remediation is less effective than ", explain Robin Peterson and Bruce Pennington from the University of Denver in the USA.

About 7% of the population are dyslexic, and boys are about twice as likely to have dyslexia as girls. Dyslexia was originally believed to involve problems with visual processing, but mounting evidence suggests that the underlying deficit involves difficulty with how sounds in language are heard and mapped onto letters (phonological impairment).

"Like all behaviourally defined disorders, the cause of dyslexia is multifactorial and is associated with multiple and ", explain the authors. Despite the recent identification of six genes that contribute to the disorder, very little is known about how these and other possible might contribute to dyslexia or the role of the environment in the cause of the condition.

Further research is needed to reveal further undiscovered genes that may contribute to dyslexia, to identify which gene locations are shared and not shared with comorbid disorders, including (ADHD), and to examine the effects of environmental risk factors such as the language and pre-literacy environments that parents provide for their children.

"We still need to learn more about the nature of phonological deficit and how this problem interacts with other linguistic and non-linguistic risk factors, the developmental course of neural abnormalities and how these predict treatment response, and which environmental risk factors contribute to the development of poor reading and whether these are the same across demographic groups", explain Peterson and Pennington.

They add that as well as scientific challenges, more needs to be done to address treatment issues. "Brain-imaging studies have shown that effective intervention seems to promote normalisation of activity in the left hemisphere reading and language network that has shown reduced activity in dyslexia."

Although diagnosis is often delayed until school age, common coexisting conditions such as ADHD, language impairment, and speech sound disorder are likely to be apparent much earlier, and could be used to help predict a child's risk of later reading problems, conclude the authors, adding that: "Many effective treatments are low cost, which further draws attention to the importance of early identification, prevention, and treatment of for public health."

Explore further: Linking reading to voice recognition

More information:

Related Stories

Linking reading to voice recognition

July 29, 2011

When people recognize voices, part of what helps make voice recognition accurate is noticing how people pronounce words differently. But individuals with dyslexia don't experience this familiar language advantage, say researchers.

Brain MRIs may provide an early diagnostic marker for dyslexia

January 23, 2012

Children at risk for dyslexia show differences in brain activity on MRI scans even before they begin learning to read, finds a study at Children's Hospital Boston. Since developmental dyslexia responds to early intervention, ...

Tackling dyslexia before kids learn to read

April 5, 2012

For children with dyslexia, the trouble begins even before they start reading and for reasons that don't necessarily reflect other language skills. That's according to a report published online on April 5 in Current Biology, ...

Recommended for you

Monkeys in Asia harbor virus from humans, other species

November 19, 2015

When it comes to spreading viruses, bats are thought to be among the worst. Now a new study of nearly 900 nonhuman primates in Bangladesh and Cambodia shows that macaques harbor more diverse astroviruses, which can cause ...

One-step test for hepatitis C virus infection developed

November 14, 2015

UC Irvine Health researchers have developed a cost-effective one-step test that screens, detects and confirms hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections. Dr. Ke-Qin Hu, director of hepatology services, will present findings at the ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.