WordDriver-1: Evaluating the efficacy of an app-supported decoding intervention for children with reading impairment
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© 2018 Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists. Background: Fluent word reading is a key characteristic of skilled reading, yet most children with reading disorders have impaired word-reading skills. Previous research has demonstrated that multi-component interventions targeting phonemic awareness and the alphabetic principle are effective for children with reading disorders. However, about 25% of children fail to respond to these interventions. While it has been difficult to isolate the active ingredient, the findings of some studies suggest that tasks targeting phonological recoding and orthographic processing are essential elements in improving decoding. Aims: To develop and evaluate an intervention that specifically targets phonological recoding and orthographic processing (a decoding intervention) for children with persistent word-reading impairment. Methods & Procedures: A single-subject crossover design with multiple treatments was used to examine the efficacy of the decoding intervention (15 × 20-min sessions) compared with a language intervention that controlled for individual therapy time. Eight children (aged 7:6-8:11 years) with persistent word-reading impairment were randomly assigned to one of two intervention sequences. The effect of the decoding intervention was evaluated by (1) changes in decoding accuracy measured by performance on researcher-developed non-word lists; and (2) generalization to other standardized measures of reading. Outcomes & Results: The results showed that all participants demonstrated significant gains in non-word reading on researcher-developed non-word lists and standardized measures of non-word-reading accuracy and efficiency. Trends for improvement on standardized measures of word-reading efficiency, text-reading accuracy and reading comprehension were observed. Conclusions & Implications: This decoding intervention significantly improved non-word decoding skills in all participants who had not responded to previous reading interventions. As such, it may be an efficient adjunct to the first stage of reading interventions for this population. The relative lack of generalization to other word-reading skills may have been due to the nature of the outcome measures, the short intervention time and/or additional delays in participant orthographic processing skills.
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