Assessing for SpLD Series
by Jan Thomson-Long
Background Information – Family SpLD
“The thing that interests me most about family history is the gap between the things we think we know
about our families and the realities.” ~ Jeremy Hard
When conducting a diagnostic investigation into Specific Learning Differences (SpLD) such as dyslexia and dyscalculia it is important to know as much background information as possible.
Ongoing research into genetics has identified at least four genes that are involved with dyslexia (Perani et al., 2021) which supports earlier research (Galaburda et al., 2006) that clarified dyslexia as a phonological deficit identified by difficulties with:
- phonological awareness: being the ability to deliberately pay attention to and manipulate speech sounds,
- verbal short-term memory: the capacity to temporarily maintain phonological representations active, and
- slow lexical retrieval: able to retrieve the phonological word form to articulate speech.
Likewise, research into dyscalculia has also identified the familial link (Shalev et al., 2016).
So given this strong evidence that dyslexia and dyscalculia run in families, assessors will want to identify if this is the case for each investigation. Therefore, the question will be asked if parents, siblings, or other family members have been diagnosed with any SpLD. Of course, not all families will know in which case it’s important to clarify that too.
Galaburda, A. M., Loturco, J., Ramus, F., Fitch, R. H., & Rosen, G. D. (2006). From genes to behavior in developmental dyslexia. May 2014. https://doi.org/10.1038/nn1772
Perani, D., Scifo, P., Cicchini, G. M., Rosa, P. Della, Banfi, C., Mascheretti, S., Falini, A., Marino, C., & Morrone, M. C. (2021). White matter deficits correlate with visual motion perception impairments in dyslexic carriers of the DCDC2 genetic risk variant. Experimental Brain Research, 239(9), 2725–2740. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00221-021-06137-1
Shalev, R. S., Manor, O., Kerem, B., Ayali, M., Badichi, N., Friedlander, Y., & Gross-Tsur, V. (2016). Developmental Dyscalculia Is a Familial Learning Disability: Journal of Learning Disabilities. https://doi.org/10.1177/002221940103400105