The Center for Defining and Treating Specific Learning Disabilities in Written Language has seven broad objectives: (1) Use learning profiles of writing, reading, and oral language skills to identify clear, nonoverlapping cases of 3 well-defined specific learning disabilities in written language (SLDs-WL)-impaired handwriting, impaired word reading and spelling, and impaired reading comprehension and written expression-and then evaluate their construct validity based on their concordance with evidence-based, behavioral markers of genetic and brain differences and differential response to the same specialized instruction, that is, Response to Intervention (RTI) (Project I);(2) Investigate the complexities of learning written English, a morphophonemic orthography, during written language tasks in the upper elementary grades and middle school/ junior high grades for students who do and do not struggle in learning written language (Project II);(3) Examine whether the brain's temporal functional connectivity differs among the three SLDs-WL and between them and normal readers and writers and, if so, whether after specialized instruction any prior differences in connectivity normalize (Project III);(4) Increase knowledge of why some students show persisting difficulties in learning written language in the upper elementary and middle school/junior high grades (grades 4 to 9) (Projects I, II, III, and Service Core B);(5) Advance transdisciplinary knowledge of whether phenotypic, genetic (normal or abnormal allele in specific gene locations), and motivation factors predict behavioral RTI (Project I, Service Core B) and brain RTI for students in general (Project III, Service Core B);(6) Advance knowledge of the language, working memory, biological, and affective influences on RTI by evaluating which of the variables in Objective 5 best predicts behavioral RTI and brain RTI for each of the SLDs-W;and (7) Share the transportable, computerized, specialized instruction for students and professional development for teachers (Project I) with researchers and the community serving diverse populations: Spanish-Speaking English language learners and Native Americans in urban and reservation schools (Service Core B).

Public Health Relevance

Children with undiagnosed and untreated specific learning disabilities affecting written language learning are at greater risk for underachievement in the upper grades, school drop out, failure to graduate from high school and gain access to higher education, and related mental health problems. The proposed multidisciplinary research has practical significance for improving diagnosis and providing more effective services which may lower such risks.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Specialized Center (P50)
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Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZHD1-DSR-H (53))
Program Officer
Miller, Brett
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University of Washington
Schools of Education
United States
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Nielsen, Kathleen; Andria-Habermann, Kathryn; Richards, Todd et al. (2018) Emotional and Behavioral Correlates of Persisting Specific Learning Disabilities in Written Language during Middle Childhood and Early Adolescence. J Psychoeduc Assess 36:651-669
Thompson, Robert; Tanimoto, Steve; Lyman, Ruby Dawn et al. (2018) Effective Instruction for Persisting Dyslexia in Upper Grades: Adding Hope Stories and Computer Coding to Explicit Literacy Instruction. Educ Inf Technol (Dordr) 23:1043-4068
Alston-Abel, Nicole Lynn; Berninger, Virginia (2018) Relationships between Home Literacy Practices and School Achievement: Implications for Consultation and Home-School Collaboration. J Educ Psychol Consult 28:164-189
Richards, Todd L; Berninger, Virginia W; Yagle, Kevin et al. (2018) Brain's functional network clustering coefficient changes in response to instruction (RTI) in students with and without reading disabilities: Multi-leveled reading brain's RTI. Cogent Psychol 5:
Sanders, Elizabeth A; Berninger, Virginia W; Abbott, Robert D (2018) Sequential Prediction of Literacy Achievement for Specific Learning Disabilities Contrasting in Impaired Levels of Language in Grades 4 to 9. J Learn Disabil 51:137-157
Nielsen, Kathleen; Henderson, Sheila; Barnett, Anna L et al. (2018) Movement Issues Identified in Movement ABC2 Checklist Parent Ratings for Students with Persisting Dysgraphia, Dyslexia, and OWL LD and Typical Literacy Learners. Learn Disabil (Pittsbg) 23:10-23
Yagle, Kevin; Richards, Todd; Askren, Katie et al. (2017) Relationships between Eye Movements during Sentence Reading Comprehension, Word Spelling and Reading, and DTI and fmri Connectivity In Students with and without Dysgraphia or Dyslexia. J Syst Integr Neurosci 3:
Richards, Todd; Pettet, Mark; Askren, Mary et al. (2017) ERPs While Judging Meaningfulness of Sentences With and Without Homonym or Morpheme Spelling Foils: Comparing 4th to 9th Graders With and Without Spelling Disabilities. Dev Neuropsychol 42:284-297
Richards, Todd L; Abbott, Robert D; Yagle, Kevin et al. (2017) Self-government of complex reading and writing brains informed by cingulo-opercular network for adaptive control and working memory components for language learning. J Syst Integr Neurosci 3:
Richards, Todd L; Berninger, Virginia W; Yagle, Kevin J et al. (2017) Changes in DTI Diffusivity and fMRI Connectivity Cluster Coefficients for Students with and without Specific Learning Disabilities In Written Language: Brain's Response to Writing Instruction. J Nat Sci 3:

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