Teaching reading to children with neurofibromatosis type 1: a clinical trial with random assignment to different approaches

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Abstract

AIM

Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is a genetic disorder with a cognitive profile that includes visual–spatial perception deficits and a high incidence of reading disability. There is a paucity of information about how this cognitively complex population responds to mainstream reading interventions. The clinical trial goals were to determine whether children and adolescents with NF1 and reading deficits (NF+RD) benefit from mainstream remedial reading programs and whether responsiveness varies with differences in program-related visual–spatial demands.

METHOD

Forty-nine participants (28 males, 21 females; aged 8–14y) with either NF+RD (n=17, 11 males, six females) or idiopathic reading deficit (IRD) (n=32, 17 males, 15 females) were randomly assigned to intensive remedial teaching using one of two multisensory reading programs: one with greater kinesthetic demands and the other with greater visual–spatial demands. Two control groups – wait-list IRD (n=14, 11 males, three females) and typically developing readers (n=26, 13 males, 13 females) – received no treatment. Repeated measures and multivariate ANOVA analyses compared each group's growth in reading achievement from pre- to post-testing.

RESULTS

Treated groups showed significant growth whereas untreated groups did not. Comparing treated groups, the IRD group responded equally well to both interventions, whereas the NF+RD group showed a better response to the more kinesthetic approach.

INTERPRETATION

Results suggest that multisensory remedial reading teaching that emphasizes kinesthetic demands more than visual–spatial demands is suitable for students with NF+RD.

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