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Genes & Dyslexia:
A Simple Test to Identify Dyslexic Children at Birth is Less Than One Year Away
by Sue Whitney, Research Editor, Wrightslaw

Reading is a learned skill, not a natural skill that develops as we mature. However, the ease with which we can learn to read is governed by our biological make-up.

Last week, scientists presented research at the 55th Annual Meeting of The American Society of Human Genetics about genetic links associated with dyslexia. According to the news release about this research:

"With an incidence as high as 5-10 percent in school age children, dyslexia is primarily genetically determined. Recently, several genes have been independently identified as causative for the disorder."

One of these, located in the DYX5 locus on chromosome 3, has been shown by Dr. Kere and colleagues from Karolinska Institute, Sweden to be the axon guidance receptor gene ROBO1. Another haplotype, on chromosome 6p22, has been shown by Dr. Silvia Paracchini, University of Oxford, to be associated with a biological mechanism for the development of dyslexia.

Drs. Haiying Meng and Jeff Gruen, Yale University, also will describe a reading disability locus on chromosome 6p22, located within the DCDC2 gene, which is preferentially expressed in brain regions known to participate in the reading process. Drs. Bruce Pennington, University of Denver, and Dr. Anthony Monaco, Wellcome Trust, Oxford, will present information on dyslexia and the genetics of language and reading disorders, respectively."

A Simple Test to Identify Children with Dyslexia at Birth

According to an article by Sandra Blakeslee in The New York Times, a genetic test for dyslexia should be available within a year -- or less.

The test involves a simple cheek swab. Pediatricians will be able to accurately identify children with dyslexia at birth. Appropriate early intervention can eliminate or lessen the severity of dyslexia before these children reach the age when formal reading instruction usually takes place.

Preventing Reading Difficulties and Reading Failure, Early Intervention and Prevention

Regardless of the child's "label," most children with disabilities have deficits in reading. Parents and teachers need to be knowledgeable about reading problems, appropriate interventions, and prevention. These publications and resources will help.

Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children by the Committee on the Prevention of Reading Difficulties in Young Children, National Research Council, published by the National Academies Press.

Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children examines reading problems and introduces concepts used by experts in the field. In a clear and readable narrative, you learn about word identification, comprehension, and other processes in normal reading development. You learn about the factors that put children at risk of poor reading. You learn how literacy can be fostered from birth through kindergarten and the primary grades. Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children includes an evaluation of philosophies, systems, and materials commonly used to teach reading.

You can order this publication as a hardback book, a PDF book, or both. You can also read this publication online for free. Learn more.

Preventing Early Reading Failure and Its Devastating Downward Spiral by Joseph K. Torgesen (published in the American Educator by the American Federation of Teachers. According to Dr. Torgesen:

"Children who are destined to be poor readers in fourth grade almost invariably have difficulties in kindergarten and first grade with critical phonological skills . . . These weak phonological skills, in turn, mean it is difficult for these children to identify (decode) unknown words, and their efforts to do so produce many errors. Naturally, these children find it difficult, even unpleasant, to read independently."

"Their problems then spiral." Read article

Intervention and Prevention from Reading Rockets.

"Early interventions are designed to help students before they begin to fail. Knowing which students are at risk for reading difficulty, and knowing what to do for those students are the first steps in providing effective early intervention. Find out how to use this knowledge to help prevent reading problems for struggling readers." Learn about Intervention and Prevention

Sources for Reading Research from Reading Rockets.

"Enormous amounts of reading and literacy research is available from the U.S. Department of Education, journals, associations, and other entities. These suggestions and links will help you find what you need." Learn about reading research.

More about reading.

More about research based instruction

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