By Lauren Camera
December 29, 2015
Learning gaps are apparent in dyslexic students as early as first grade, a new study shows, and those gaps are never closed.
|Learning differences between dyslexic students and|
their peers surface at a young age.
The study, published in The Journal of Pediatrics, is based on 414 Connecticut students assessed yearly from first to 12th grade on measures of reading and IQ.
As early as first grade, compared with typical readers, dyslexic readers had lower reading scores and verbal IQ. Notably, their trajectories over time never converge with those of typical readers.
The data demonstrate, the researchers noted, that such differences are not so much a function of increasing disparities over time but instead because of differences already present in first grade between typical and dyslexic readers.
"This finding has important implications," they wrote. "If the persistent achievement gap between dyslexic and typical readers is to be narrowed, or even closed, reading interventions must be implemented early, when children are still developing the basic foundation for reading acquisition."
The findings, the researchers argued, provide strong evidence and impetus for early identification of and intervention for young children at risk for dyslexia, which has the potential to close that achievement gap.
Dyslexia is the most common neurobehavioral disorder in children, affecting 17-21 percent of students, and accounts for 80 percent of all children identified as having a learning disability.
Dyslexia is due to a difficulty getting to the sounds of spoken language. At its core, the report authors explain, dyslexia is a problem with phonological processing, an important part of spoken language that allows people to understand the elemental sounds of speech.
"As dyslexic children progress in school, given good instruction, reading accuracy often improves," the authors note. "However, lack of fluency – the ability to read not only accurately, but rapidly and with good intonation – persists and remains a lifelong problem."
School policies have often emphasized that all children should be reading by third grade, which the study's authors argued has perhaps contributed to the delay of a dyslexia diagnosis until after third grade.