Creative synergies between research and practice: Working together to build better interventions for children and adolescents with reading disabilities
This lecture will attempt to explore some of the opportunities that accrue when practitioners and researchers enter each other’s worlds, engaging in meaningful dialogue that can reshape the practices of all for the better. Since IDA was formed in the 1920s, there has been great progress in our understanding of dyslexia and reading disorders, and IDA has led many initiatives to facilitate the development of sound assessment and teaching practices. Of great importance, throughout its history, IDA has fostered an enthusiastic alliance between research and practice. Despite the progress, as teachers, clinicians, and scientists, we have many unanswered questions about dyslexia and reading disabilities—what causes it? How early can it be predicted? Can prediction lead to prevention? How can we describe the important differences among individuals with reading disorders? What makes for effective intervention at different ages and stages of reading development, or for children with different profiles of comorbidity?
This presentation will share a story of my own career journey in reading intervention research, a story that spans more than 35 years, and started with a basic question articulated by a pediatric neurologist: Was it was even possible to conduct rigorous research on the treatment of learning disabilities? Why was there not a scientific literature to consult on effective treatment for these children? Closely working with valued colleagues and team members to create, evaluate, and refine approaches to teaching children with severe reading disabilities, we have met with both success and failure in our efforts. But we have always learned new lessons about reading disorders, and been able to pose better questions at the end of each intervention study. Lessons learned from our own research findings, as well as research evidence on the nature and course of reading disabilities and what a reading brain looks like, can inspire refined interventions. This body of evidence has led us to develop a set of research-based intervention programs for children, teens, and adults with reading problems. Some of the principles underlying these programs and lessons learned from their evaluation will be described. I will also raise emerging questions to help us consider new ways to improve interventions to facilitate the many people around the world, children, teens, and adults, still struggling to attain basic literacy skills.
IMPLEMENTATION: Gain an awareness of methods and practices that support the successful implementation of literacy interventions in schools and districts.
TEACHING/INSTRUCTION/INTERVENTION: Examine critical issues regarding the involvement of teachers in the implementation of Response to Intervention (RTI).
The Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto
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