Despite the fact that more individuals in the United States suffer from dyslexia (30 million) than autism (2 million) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (27 million) combined, testing for the disorder only generally occurs once a child begins exhibiting trouble learning to read sometime during their elementary school education. Even then, nearly half of all parents who realize their child struggles with reading wait a full year before they have their child tested for dyslexia, according to statistics complied at the website dyslexiahealth.com.
The longer a child suffers undiagnosed with dyslexia, the longer they must spend struggling to learn what comes so much easier to classmates, and the longer they must endure the frustration and isolation they feel as a result of their disability. Even when a child receives a proper diagnosis, fewer than 1/3rd of all school age children who suffer from a reading disability receive the specialized instruction they need to overcome their disability.
Ideally, parents of a child who suffers from dyslexia would discover their child’s disorder when they are of a preschool age, prior to them learning their ABCs. Until recently, however, the signs of dyslexia did not manifest itself in any noticeable way until a child began learning how to read. But now, researchers in Italy believe they have discovered a way to test children for reading disabilities prior to the child actually learning how to read.
In a study conducted at the University of Padua, researchers tested 96 kindergarteners that hadn’t yet learned to read by asking the children to identify certain symbols while being distracted. The researchers also asked the children to identify syllables, names colors, and to recall things they were told as part of the study. Researchers continued to follow these children for two years, recording their progress, as they began to learn how to read.
According to the study’s results published in Current Biology, a peer reviewed medical journal, the student’s who struggled with the visual attention test also struggled with learning how to read when they got older. Approximately 60-percent of the children who displayed a visual-attention deficit in they early tests struggled to learn how to read when they reached elementary school. Researchers believe that if more preschool age children receive a visual attention screening, then a majority of children with dyslexia could get help at a younger age and potentially avoid years of struggling when in school and into adulthood.
Considering the number of adults in the U.S. who fell through the cracks in the system and were never properly diagnosed with dyslexia, early diagnosis of their children’s disability could shed some light on their own life long struggles. Studies show the roughly 40-percent of boys and 20-percent of girls with dyslexia also have a parent who suffers from the disorder.
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