Two children in every classroom will fail. The dyslexia paradox: Dyslexia is generally diagnosed after the most effective time for intervention has passed. Diagnosis is typically in second or third grade after a child fails to read. But interventions are most effective in kindergarten and first grade. Can we fix this? Can we intervene earlier and significantly alter a child’s life?
The decade-spanning research of Nadine Gaab, PhD, has identified markers that show an increased risk for dyslexia in children as young as four. She’s focused her work on earlier identification and shifting support resources to kindergarten age, three years earlier than today’s standard. Why? With early
A late diagnosis of dyslexia
intervention, many children can reach average reading
imposes a high and often
aptitude. The impact? Huge. Ten to 12 percent of school-
life-long toll on a child.
aged children have dyslexia.
Multiple school moves
Decreased likelihood of
Early identification of dyslexia is critical to improving reading outcomes in children and preventing the domino effect of socio-emotional problems that accompany reading failure. Dr. Gaab envisions a future where every child receives a dyslexia-risk assessment at their 4- or 5-year-old well visit with their pediatrician. Boston Children’s Innovation and Digital Health Accelerator (IDHA) program, which supports and fast-tracks Boston Children’s innovations to improve pediatric care, is helping to make that possible.
graduating high school or Enter Lexosaurus, a 30-minute mobile
dyslexia screening app for clinicians, teachers
and parents, capable of screening for early indicators of dyslexia in children age four and older. To the child, it’s just a fun and interactive game.
Increased risk of entering the juvenile justice system
“We’re hoping this app will allow a child’s intellectual potential to be maximized.” – Dr. Gaab
Following the 30-minute “game,” the child receives a score that measures risk for developing dyslexia. If a risk is detected, the app will offer a list of tools for educators, parents and social workers. These tools include websites with teaching resources and intervention programs, and educational videos for parents suggesting at-home activities that improve essential pre-reading skills. The app is cost-effective, quick and easy for professionals to use at preschools, pre-
Dr. Gaab presents Lexosaurus (photo: Greg Weintraub)
kindergarten information sessions, summer camps, and even parents at home.
"We don't recommend diagnosing earlier, we recommend identifying at-risk children earlier. The idea is to identify those who may struggle and then intervene as early as possible so these children will have a less severe form of dyslexia, or will never get diagnosed.” – Dr. Gaab Dr. Gaab continues to develop the app with funding from Boston Children’s IDHA. Next stop, the State House. Inspired by Dr. Gaab’s research, state lawmakers are reviewing legislation that would require routine screening for dyslexia as early as kindergarten.