More needs to be done to diagnose children with dyslexia at an earlier stage and support them effectively, says a new medical report published in The Lancet. Although much has been achieved in recent years to further our knowledge of the condition, more research is needed to fully understand dyslexia and further develop teaching interventions. Dyslexia should be seen as a top priority education and health issue, the report says.
Working out of the University of Denver, Dr Robin Peterson and Dr Bruce Pennington say that education professionals should not wait until children receive a formal diagnosis of dyslexia before implementing reading interventions “because remediation is less effective than early intervention.”
Currently, children only tend to be diagnosed as dyslexic once they have struggled with reading at school over a period of years, by which time it is much harder for them to adapt to new approaches and develop new skills. Outcomes are improved the earlier interventions are implemented, the authors claim.
There is still a great deal of debate about exactly what dyslexia is and how it is caused. Researchers have identified six genes which are thought to contribute to the condition, but little is understood about how they affect children and how they interact with environmental factors. “Like all behaviourally defined disorders, the cause of dyslexia is multi-factorial and is associated with multiple genes and environmental risk factors”, the report says.
The report supports much current thinking on dyslexia and it has been welcomed by UK charity Dyslexia Action. Kevin Geeson, the charity’s CEO says that “Improvements are still needed in British classrooms so children with dyslexia are given the best start in life before the onset of more complex problems that are then harder to address.”