UWS offers free screening to test children’s reading ability

Primary school student

Researchers at the University of Western Sydney are offering free screening of eligible children to help parents determine whether they are at risk of developing reading difficulties such as dyslexia when they get older.

The UWS MARCS Institute, in conjunction with the University of Cambridge, UK, is examining the development of various speech and cognitive abilities of infants from five months to 12 years of age.

Using the state of the art facilities at the Marcs Institute BabyLab at the UWS Bankstown campus, the new study is aiming to establish new methods to make an early diagnosis of compromised reading abilities such as dyslexia, which usually manifest once children start school and learn to read.

The Head of the ‘Seeds of Literacy’ project and Director of the UWS MARCS Institute, Professor Denis Burnham, says parents who are concerned about the development of their child’s reading ability are invited to apply to have them tested at the Babylab.

“It’s natural for parents to feel a bit concerned about their children’s development, especially when they seem to be falling behind their peers,” says Professor Burnham.

“As part of this study, we are offering parents the chance to bring their children  into our Babylab to take part in some reading and writing activities with our researchers to get a professional opinion.”

“Parents will also have the option to enrol in assessments of speech perception, reading, and brain responses to get a complete picture on their child’s development, all free of charge.”

Professor Burnham says that children who are identified as at risk for developing dyslexia will then be invited to take part in the study.

“By monitoring the development of children with dyslexia we hope to uncover the hidden clues that will allow us to provide better help to children at a younger age,” he says.

“At the moment children are really only diagnosed with dyslexia in their first few years of school, which means they might already be well behind their classmates and in need of intensive tuition to catch up.”

“By uncovering the early signals of this reading difficulty, we hope to give parents and doctors new tools to help children before they start school.”

Participants in the study will join the ‘Seeds’ Club, receive graded BabyLab degrees for their child, regular ‘Seeds’ newsletters, plus a small gift and $30 for each visit to cover travel expenses.

For further information please email babylab@uws.edu.au


27 November 2013

Contact: Mark Smith, Senior Media Officer

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