Study to target evidence of dyslexia in early development

THE University of Western Sydney is calling for pint-sized volunteers keen to find a way to diagnose dyslexia.

The UWS MARCS BabyLab has been running a study that aims to discover whether it is possible to detect signs of dyslexia in babies.

BabyLab co-ordinator Rachel Lee said this would mean dyslexia sufferers would not have to go through several years of difficulty at school before they were diagnosed.

Mrs Lee, of Mount Annan, said two groups of babies, one with a family history of dyslexia, and one without, were put through a series of sound tests to see if the babies at risk of dyslexia appear to perceive sound differently.

Babies are involved in the study from when they are about five months old until they turn five.

"We're hoping there's a really obvious difference between the two groups," she said.

"If we can find kids with dyslexia really early we can run early intervention programs."

She said undiagnosed dyslexia could often lead to, or be mistaken for, willful disobedience or bad behaviour because it was so difficult for sufferers to read.

Often children with dyslexia are teased or marginalised, even if they are intelligent people, because they are unable to read.

Ruse mother Rebecca McIntosh entered her son Declan, 15 months, in the study because she thought it was interesting.

"My psychology masters focused on kids and development, particularly in language and reading," Mrs McIntosh said.

While Declan has no history of dyslexia, Mrs McIntosh said she wanted to be able to contribute to the study.

"It's a long commitment, five years, but once they get past 18 months the visits are only every three to six months," she said.

Mrs McIntosh said each visit only took a few minutes during which the babies listened to sounds and their reactions were recorded.

Families who take part are given money to cover travel costs.

To get involved in the study register via www.babylab.com.au or call Rachel Lee on 9772 6313.

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