Dyslexia and Dyscalculia: Profiles, Developmental Trajectories, and Insights from Genetic Syndromes

A special issue of Children (ISSN 2227-9067). This special issue belongs to the section "Pediatric Neurology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (10 April 2024) | Viewed by 7525

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
1. Faculty of Psychology, “Niccolò Cusano” University of Rome, Via Don Carlo Gnocchi, 3, 00166 Rome, Italy
2. Department of Developmental and Social Psychology, “Sapienza” University of Rome, Via dei Marsi, 78, 00185 Rome, Italy
Interests: language in typical and atypical development; figurative language development: theory and testing; neurodevelopmental disorders: assessment and intervention; cognitive, language and learning profiles in rare genetic syndromes; cognitive developmental neuroscience; child neuropsychology
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Department of Psychology, Sapienza University of Rome, 00185 Rome, Italy
Interests: learning disabilities; dyslexia and related disorders; models of dyslexia; eye movements in reading; language
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

A large body of research indicates that the genesis of dyslexia and dyscalculia depend on reciprocal influences between multiple factors at the neural, cognitive, and behavioural levels, in addition to a dependence on environmental factors. However, the nature of these factors and their interaction remain to be elucidated. Depending on the developmental phase, these influences result in a very wide variability in clinical manifestations, including their frequent co-occurrence, and in their developmental trajectories (with or without rehabilitation treatments). In this regard, a particularly challenging source of variability is represented by genetic syndromes (phenylketonuria, Klinefelter syndrome, Turner syndrome, etc.). Even in cases of adequate or nearly adequate cognitive functioning, one observes children and adolescents with disorders in learning to read and/or calculate whose clinical presentation and developmental paths highlight diversified multifactorial dynamics, casting a beacon of light on the complex nature of the genesis of these disorders.

The objective of the Special Issue is to explore the sources of variability in the genesis and transformability of dyslexic and dyscalculic disorders with a particular attention to genetic syndromes. The derived knowledge may be particularly useful in implementing diversified and targeted stage-by-stage interventions.

Therefore, we welcome research contributions, reviews that take stock of the latest knowledge, and single case studies on the reading and writing difficulties observable in children and adolescents with and without genetic syndromes.

Prof. Dr. Sergio Melogno
Prof. Dr. Pierluigi Zoccolotti
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • dyslexia
  • dyscalculia
  • multifactorial genesis
  • developmental profiles
  • developmental trajectories
  • genetic syndromes
  • children
  • adolescents

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

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13 pages, 293 KiB  
Article
What Components of Working Memory Are Impaired in Children with Reading and/or Mathematics Difficulties?
by Rui Chen, George K. Georgiou, Peng Peng, Yuanyuan Li, Beilei Li, Jiali Wang and Sha Tao
Children 2023, 10(10), 1719; https://doi.org/10.3390/children10101719 - 23 Oct 2023
Viewed by 1602
Abstract
Both reading difficulties (RD) and mathematics difficulties (MD) are common neurodevelopmental disorders. The co-occurrence of RD and MD, known as comorbid RDMD, is estimated to range between 21% and 45% of children with learning disabilities. Deficits in working memory have been reported in [...] Read more.
Both reading difficulties (RD) and mathematics difficulties (MD) are common neurodevelopmental disorders. The co-occurrence of RD and MD, known as comorbid RDMD, is estimated to range between 21% and 45% of children with learning disabilities. Deficits in working memory have been reported in both RD and MD groups, as well as among comorbid RDMD. However, previous comorbidity studies have only examined the role of some components of working memory, and they do not strictly match their groups on relevant reading and mathematics tasks. Thus, the purpose of this study is to examine the nature of working memory deficits in comorbid RDMD after matching groups based on reading and mathematics tasks. We assessed four groups of children (RD [n = 21, Mage = 10.96 years], MD [n = 24, Mage = 11.04 years], comorbid RDMD [n = 26, Mage = 10.90 years], and chronological-age controls [n = 27, Mage = 10.96 years]) on measures of the phonological loop (word span and digit span forward tasks), central executive (complex word and digit span), and updating tasks (word and digit 2-back). The results of ANCOVA (covarying for gender and non-verbal IQ) showed first that the RD and RDMD groups performed significantly worse than the MD and control groups in both measures of the phonological loop. For the central executive and updating tasks, we found an effect based on stimulus type. For word-related tasks, the RD and comorbid RDMD groups performed worse than the MD and control groups, and for number-related tasks, the MD and comorbid RDMD groups performed worse than the RD and control groups. Taken together, our findings provide support for the correlated liability model of comorbidity, which indicates that working memory deficits experienced by the RDMD group are an additive combination of deficits observed in the RD and MD groups, suggesting that working memory tasks used to examine underlying deficits in reading and/or mathematics difficulties may dictate whether or not significant group differences are found. Full article
14 pages, 1508 KiB  
Article
Specific Learning Disorders (SLD) and Behavior Impairment: Comorbidity or Specific Profile?
by Daniela Pia Rosaria Chieffo, Valentina Arcangeli, Federica Moriconi, Angelica Marfoli, Federica Lino, Sofia Vannuccini, Elisa Marconi, Ida Turrini, Claudia Brogna, Chiara Veredice, Alessandro Antonietti, Gabriele Sani and Eugenio Maria Mercuri
Children 2023, 10(8), 1356; https://doi.org/10.3390/children10081356 - 7 Aug 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2323
Abstract
Introduction: Specific Learning Disorder (SLD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by difficulties in perceiving and processing verbal and non-verbal information. It is usually accompanied by impaired academic skills leading to school dropout and emotional disturbances, resulting in significant distress and behavioral problems. Methods: [...] Read more.
Introduction: Specific Learning Disorder (SLD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by difficulties in perceiving and processing verbal and non-verbal information. It is usually accompanied by impaired academic skills leading to school dropout and emotional disturbances, resulting in significant distress and behavioral problems. Methods: A cognitive, academic, and emotional-behavioral assessment was performed at T0 and T1 in children and adolescents with SLD. Participants received psychotherapy and speech therapy treatment from T0 to T1. Results: In SLD, the most compromised cognitive functions were working memory and writing skills. An impact on academic abilities was found. Children and adolescents with SLD experience greater anxiety and depression levels compared to their control peers. Conclusions: SLD may adversely influence psychological well-being. To counteract such a consequence, more specific cognitive and academic skill-oriented strategies should be taken into consideration. Full article
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20 pages, 355 KiB  
Article
The Cognitive Ability of Chinese Students with Dyslexia and Mathematical Learning Disabilities
by Zhaoyu Li, Abdo Hasan AL-Qadri and Wei Zhao
Children 2022, 9(12), 1949; https://doi.org/10.3390/children9121949 - 12 Dec 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1903
Abstract
This study aims to investigate the core cognitive factors that affect reading and math performance of children of the grades 1–6 in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, China, as well as the differences between children with dyslexia and mathematical disabilities (MD). Therefore, this study mainly [...] Read more.
This study aims to investigate the core cognitive factors that affect reading and math performance of children of the grades 1–6 in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, China, as well as the differences between children with dyslexia and mathematical disabilities (MD). Therefore, this study mainly evaluated the Cattell Horn Carroll (CHC) cognitive factors for 427 Chinese children and explored the core cognitive factors that affect Chinese children’s reading and math performance. Students with dyslexia (n = 34), students with mathematics learning disabilities (n = 34), and 34 normal children were randomly selected as the control group. In order to explore the differences in cognitive development, we analyzed the differences among the three groups (Dyslexia, mathematical learning disabilities (MD), and normal children). The results revealed the following: (1) almost all cognitive ability factors in this study are significantly related to students’ reading and mathematical achievements. (2) the core cognitive factors for predicting Chinese dyslexia students are crystallized intelligence, auditory processing and working memory. Executive function, spatial relationship and working memory are the core cognitive factors to predict Chinese children’s mathematical achievements. (3) in addition, there are differences in cognitive deficits between disabled Chinese children in reading and math, among which those with reading deficits have extensive auditory processing deficits; while children with mathematic deficits have worse executive function. Recommendations were made based on these findings. Full article

Review

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21 pages, 329 KiB  
Review
Developmental Dyscalculia in Relation to Individual Differences in Mathematical Abilities
by Ann Dowker
Children 2024, 11(6), 623; https://doi.org/10.3390/children11060623 - 23 May 2024
Viewed by 526
Abstract
There is still much debate about the exact nature and frequency of developmental dyscalculia, and about how it should be defined. This article examines several key questions in turn: Is developmental dyscalculia a distinct disorder, or should it be seen as the lower [...] Read more.
There is still much debate about the exact nature and frequency of developmental dyscalculia, and about how it should be defined. This article examines several key questions in turn: Is developmental dyscalculia a distinct disorder, or should it be seen as the lower end of a continuum—or possibly more than one continuum—of numerical ability? Do individuals with developmental dyscalculia show atypical brain structure or function? Does the study of acquired dyscalculia have anything to teach us about developmental dyscalculia? In studying dyscalculia, should we look less at arithmetical ability as a single entity, and more at separable components of arithmetical ability? How heterogeneous is developmental dyscalculia, and how important is it to study individual profiles? To what extent is developmental dyscalculia influenced by domain-specific versus domain-general abilities? The conclusion is that, though a significant amount has been discovered through existing research, and though this has some important implications for screening and diagnosis of dyscalculia, there is much more research that still needs to be conducted if we are to answer all of these questions fully. In particular, the study of developmental dyscalculia must be more integrated with the study of individual differences in mathematics in the population as a whole. Full article
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