New research on dyslexia shows auditory processing skills are key to a child’s reading ability; Fast ForWord program addresses reading skills and cognitive skills central to all learning


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Oakland, Calif. — Aug. 15, 2013 — One in 10 people has dyslexia. On average, children with dyslexia aren’t diagnosed until the third grade, after falling behind their peers. The Donegan Burns Foundation is an organization that helps schools, afterschool programs and children’s organizations provide appropriate instruction to prevent and close these gaps. The foundation has selected the Fast ForWord® program from Scientific Learning Corp. (OTCQB:SCIL) as the intervention for its Dyslexia Testing and Intervention (DTI) Grant.

“In our current education system, children at risk for dyslexia often fall two or three years behind before receiving help. These children may suffer bullying, lose confidence and self-esteem, and ultimately drop out of school,” said Bettye Geurin-Burns, president of the Donegan Burns Foundation. “We researched many different programs for children with reading difficulties and found that the Fast ForWord program best met our needs. With Fast ForWord, we’ve seen children advance one or more grade levels in three to nine months of reading intervention.”

The Donegan Burns Foundation’s DTI Grant provides for the implementation of dyslexia testing and intervention for children in kindergarten through grade three in school, and for children ages five to 15 in afterschool programs. Through the grant, children participate in the Fast ForWord online reading intervention 30 to 50 minutes a day, and advance at their own pace. The Fast ForWord program builds reading skills and concurrently develops foundational cognitive skills, like memory, attention, processing, and sequencing, which are central to all learning.

New DTI Grant Recipient

The Donegan Burns Foundation has awarded five DTI Grants to date, the most recent to Foothill Oak Elementary in the Vista Unified School District in California. Foothill Oak Elementary plans to use the Fast ForWord online reading intervention as part of an afterschool program for struggling readers in grades two and three.

“While we’ve been very good at identifying and providing services for students who qualify for special education, we haven’t had the resources to provide individualized attention to students who struggle but do not qualify for these services,” said Dr. Erin English, principal of Foothill Oak Elementary. “We’re excited to receive the DTI Grant and to implement the Fast ForWord program because it will help us meet the needs of students who might otherwise slip through the cracks. By helping children develop their memory, attention, processing and sequencing, we can help them become better learners.”

Research on Dyslexia, Reading and Hearing Skills

While many people believe reading is a visual skill, a growing body of research indicates that it is primarily auditory in nature. A new study published in February in the Journal of Neuroscience describes how strengthening auditory processing skills can be important to treating dyslexia. In this study, titled “Unstable Representation of Sound: A Biological Marker of Dyslexia,” Jane Hornickel and Nina Kraus set out to determine whether inconsistency in the brain’s response to speech sounds is correlated with poor reading skills. The study evaluated 100 children from six to 13 years of age with a wide range of reading abilities. The authors found that poor readers’ brains had more variability in their response to speech than the brains of good readers. The researchers believe that these differences may be biological and are unrelated to intelligence or hearing. They further noted that children’s response consistency can be improved with auditory training, as demonstrated in previous studies.

“This study is the latest in a long line of research on auditory processing, its relationship to language development and reading, and the far-reaching effects that deficiencies in these areas can have on learning,” said Paula A. Tallal, Ph.D., a Board of Governors’ professor of neuroscience at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a director of Scientific Learning Corp. “Students with auditory processing problems need specific differentiation that is not possible in most classrooms without targeted technology. The good news is that modern technology, like the Fast ForWord program, can be used to address the difficulties these children face and help bridge these skill gaps. Fast ForWord is different from other reading interventions because it targets these foundational processing and language skills at their core.”

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