Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Cognitive and Academic Profiles of Reading and Mathematics Learning Disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities

Compton, D.L., Fuchs, L.S., Fuchs, D., Lambert, W., & Hamlett, C. (2012). The cognitive and academic profiles of reading and mathematics learning disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 45, 79-95.

This study examined the profiles of strengths and weaknesses across cognitive dimensions and across academic domains in children with learning disabilities. Over 600 children completed academic measures of reading comprehension, word reading, applied problems, and calculations, as well as cognitive measures of nonverbal problem solving, processing speed, concept formation, language, and working memory. Data were available at 3 time points for each child allowing modeling of the final learning disability status for each academic measure (at 5th grade) based on cognitive or academic performance.

Results revealed specific rather than general learning profiles in those with a learning disability, but a relatively flat profile for those without a learning disability. Children identified with a learning difficulty in each of the four academic measures tested tended to be low on that measure only (i.e., reading comprehension) and not the other academic tasks (i.e., word reading, applied problems, and calculations). As well, the cognitive profiles of these learning disability groups reflected specific impairments. A learning disability in reading comprehension was associated with low language relative to the other cognitive dimensions measured. Word reading disability was linked to relatively low working memory and language, and applied problems learning disability to relatively low concept formation. A learning disability in calculations was associated with a flat cognitive profile.

Overall results suggest that a specific deficit profile may characterize children with learning disabilities. Nevertheless, caution is warranted in interpreting these findings given the sample size within each profile group.

Blogger: Lisa Archibald

Monday, February 27, 2012

Accelerating Preschoolers’ Early Literacy Development Through Classroom-Based Teacher-Child Storybook Reading and Explicit Print Referencing

Justice, L.M., Kaderavek, J.N., Fan, X., Sofka, A., & Hunt, A. (2009). Accelerating Preschoolers’ Early Literacy Development Through Classroom-Based Teacher-Child Storybook Reading and Explicit Print Referencing. Language, Speech, & Hearing Services in Schools, 40, 67-85.

Like phonological awareness, print knowledge (awareness of words on the page, how to hold a book, direction to read) has been shown to positively influence children’s early literacy achievements; however print knowledge has been given less attention in research and practice. In this study, Justice et al. evaluated a 30 week, 120 book print referencing shared reading intervention implemented by teachers. Effects were measured in terms of changes in print awareness of preschool children. The teachers of 14 classrooms used the print referencing style of storybook reading while 9 comparison control classrooms used their regular style of reading. 106 preschool children were assessed on 3 measures of print knowledge: print concept knowledge, alphabet knowledge, and name writing. Results showed that preschoolers in the intervention group made significantly greater gains in print concepts and alphabet knowledge over control peers.

This article is comprehensive and includes examples of the stories used with their print referencing focus. It offers practical knowledge for any SLP or teacher.

Blogger: Laura Vanderlaan

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Relation Between Music and Phonological Processing in Normal-Reading Children and Children with Dyslexia

Forgeard, M., Schlaug, G., Norton, A., Rosam, C., & Iyengar, U. (2008). The relation between music and phonological processing in normal-reading children and children with dyslexia. Music Perception 25(4), 383-390.

Research has shown that a core deficit of dyslexia is phonological. Other research has found that musical ability is related to reading and phonological ability in both normal-reading children and those with dyslexia. If musical ability is supported by the same underlying process as phonological skill, then it is possible that musical intervention could play a role in remediating the phonological deficits present in children with dyslexia.

Forgeard et al. examined this relationship between music ability and reading ability through a series of four studies. In the first two studies, they compared musical skills to phonological and reading skills among normal readers with and without musical training. Results of the first study confirmed the relationship between phonological processing and pitch processing. Findings from the second study showed that reading ability was related to auditory music skills. They also found that children receiving musical training showed greater improvement in phonemic decoding than children receiving no musical training.

The third study tested the hypothesis that phonological and reading deficits in children with dyslexia should predict deficits in music processing. Results showed that musical discrimination predicted phonological discrimination, which in turn predicted reading ability; however, musical ability did not predict reading ability. The final study compared musical processing abilities of normal-reading children, both with and without musical training, to those of children with dyslexia. The researchers found that normal-readers with musical training performed better than normal readers without musical training, who performed significantly better than children with dyslexia.

This study offers some evidence of the relationship between musical processing and phonological processing. Forgeard et al. suggest that musical intervention may be a helpful addition in intervention programs targeting phonological processing skills. Results should be interpreted with caution due to small sample sizes.

Blogger: Laura Pauls is completing an independent study examining the agreement between standardized language tests and parent and teacher concerns about language development. She is finishing her final year in the Masters of Clinical Science program in Speech Pathology.