Blog Archives

The relationship between gross motor skills and academic achievement in children with learning disabilities

The present study compared the gross motor skills of 7- to 12-year-old children with learning disabilities (n = 104) with those of age-matched typically developing children (n = 104) using the Test of Gross Motor Development-2. Additionally, the specific relationships between subsets of gross motor skills and academic performance in reading, spelling, and mathematics were examined in children with learning disabilities. As expected, the children with learning disabilities scored poorer on both the locomotor and object-control subtests than their typically developing peers. Furthermore, in children with learning disabilities a specific relationship was observed between reading and locomotor skills and a trend was found for a relationship between mathematics and object-control skills: the larger children’s learning lag, the poorer their motor skill scores. This study stresses the importance of specific interventions facilitating both motor and academic abilities.

from Research in Developmental Disabilities

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Pleiotropic Effects of DCDC2 and DYX1C1 Genes on Language and Mathematics Traits in Nuclear Families of Developmental Dyslexia

Converging evidence indicates that developmental problems in oral language and mathematics can predate or co-occur with developmental dyslexia (DD). Substantial genetic correlations have been found between language, mathematics and reading traits, independent of the method of sampling. We tested for association of variants of two DD susceptibility genes, DCDC2 and DYX1C1, in nuclear families ascertained through a proband with DD using concurrent measurements of language and mathematics in both probands and siblings by the Quantitative Transmission Disequilibrium Test. Evidence for significant associations was found between DCDC2 and ‘Numerical Facts’ (p value = 0.02, with 85 informative families, genetic effect = 0.57) and between ‘Mental Calculation’ and DYX1C1 markers -3GA (p value = 0.05, with 40 informative families, genetic effect = −0.67) and 1249GT (p value = 0.02, with 49 informative families, genetic effect = −0.65). No statistically significant associations were found between DCDC2 or DYX1C1 and language phenotypes. Both DCDC2 and DYX1C1 DD susceptibility genes appear to have a pleiotropic role on mathematics but not language phenotypes.

from Behavior Genetics

Perceptual skills and Arabic literacy patterns for mathematically gifted children with specific learning difficulties

Phonological awareness is a key factor in the development of literacy, and frequently presents itself as an area of weakness in pupils with reading difficulties. In this article, Anies Al-Hroub of the American University of Beirut sets out to define a distinguishing pattern of characteristics that supports the identification of pupils with specific learning difficulties who are gifted in mathematics and reports the assessment of the pupils’ visual and auditory perceptual skills, including phonological awareness. The assessments were designed to measure auditory and visual memory skills, auditory and visual analysis skills, speed of information processing and spoken language (receptive and expressive). Furthermore, aspects of language learning such as reading, writing, spelling and parts of listening ability were all assessed for mathematically gifted pupils with specific learning difficulties who scored above the cut-off score of 120 on the WISC-III-Jordan. The article closes with recommendations for further research

from the British Journal of Special Education

From mathematics to language: A novel intervention for sentence comprehension difficulties in aphasia

We report an intervention for severe and chronic sentence comprehension difficulties that used the intact resources of one symbolic system (mathematics) to scaffold impaired capacity in a second symbolic system (language). The study evaluated the outcome of therapy for participant SO. SO retained the ability to understand structural principles such as reversibility in mathematics. The therapy attempted to link this awareness to language expressions in order to enhance his understanding of canonical active sentences. The investigation employed a single case study design, with multiple-baselines. Behaviour was measured prior to intervention, immediately post-intervention, and following an eight week no-therapy maintenance period. A four component therapy programme lasting five weeks was implemented. Untreated control behaviours displayed only minor change following intervention. The intervention resulted in significant and stable improvement in treated behaviours with increased scores for sentence comprehension, including the comprehension of spoken and written reversible sentences. There was generalisation of gains to untreated sentences, and also to sentences which shared the verb, but not the noun phrases of the treated sentences.

from the Journal of Neurolinguistics

From mathematics to language: A novel intervention for sentence comprehension difficulties in aphasia

We report an intervention for severe and chronic sentence comprehension difficulties that used the intact resources of one symbolic system (mathematics) to scaffold impaired capacity in a second symbolic system (language). The study evaluated the outcome of therapy for participant SO. SO retained the ability to understand structural principles such as reversibility in mathematics. The therapy attempted to link this awareness to language expressions in order to enhance his understanding of canonical active sentences. The investigation employed a single case study design, with multiple-baselines. Behaviour was measured prior to intervention, immediately post-intervention, and following an eight week no-therapy maintenance period. A four component therapy programme lasting five weeks was implemented. Untreated control behaviours displayed only minor change following intervention. The intervention resulted in significant and stable improvement in treated behaviours with increased scores for sentence comprehension, including the comprehension of spoken and written reversible sentences. There was generalisation of gains to untreated sentences, and also to sentences which shared the verb, but not the noun phrases of the treated sentences.

from the Journal of Neurolinguistics

Counting on working memory when learning to count and to add: A preschool study.

In this study, the author aimed at measuring how much limited working memory capacity constrains early numerical development before any formal mathematics instruction. To that end, 4- and 5-year-old children were tested for their memory skills in the phonological loop (PL), visuo-spatial sketchpad (VSSP), and central executive (CE); they also completed a series of tasks tapping their addition and counting skills. A general vocabulary test was given to examine the difference between the children’s numerical and general vocabulary. The results indicated that measures of the PL and the CE, but not those of the VSSP, were correlated with children’s performance in counting, addition and general vocabulary. However, the predictive power of the CE capacity was significantly stronger than that of the PL capacity. Poor CE capacity should thus be taken into consideration when identifying children at risk of experiencing learning disabilities. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2009 APA, all rights reserved)

from Developmental Psychology

The Children Born in 2001 at Kindergarten Entry: First Findings From the Kindergarten Data Collections of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort (ECLS-B)

Using data from the final two rounds of the ECLS-B, a longitudinal study begun in 2001, this First Look provides a snapshot of the demographic characteristics, reading and mathematics knowledge, fine motor skills, school characteristics, and before- and after-school care arrangements of the cohort at the time they first began kindergarten. Information has been collected from and about these children when they were 9 months old, 2 years old, 4 years old, and at kindergarten entry. This survey provides a comprehensive and reliable data about children’s early development; their home learning experiences; their experiences in early care and education programs; their health care, nutrition, and physical well-being; and how their early experiences relate to their later development, learning, and success in school.

from the U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences

Using Kindergarten Number Sense to Predict Calculation Fluency in Second Grade

from the Journal of Learning Disabilities

Children’s number sense in kindergarten was used to predict their calculation fluency in second grade (N = 198). Using block entry regression, usual predictors of age, reading, memory, and verbal and spatial cognition were entered in the first block and number sense measures were added in the second block. Number sense measures contributed a significant amount of variance over and above the more general predictors (26%—42%). Uniquely predictive subareas were active memory for numbers, number knowledge, and number combinations, with number combinations standing out as the strongest single predictor. Number sense screening in kindergarten, using “at-risk” versus “not-at-risk” criteria, successfully ruled out 84% of the children who did not go on to have calculation fluency difficulties and positively identified 52% of the children who later showed fluency difficulties. The relation of early number skills to later calculation fluency has important implications for math screening and intervention.