Page last updated at 06:03 GMT, Friday, 13 November 2009

Noise 'worse for dyslexic pupils'

Child writing
Simple steps can make a big difference for children with dyslexia, experts say

Children with dyslexia find it harder to hear in noisy classrooms than those without the condition, a US study says.

Pupils with poor reading skills were also more likely to struggle to retain information when there was background noise, researchers reported in Neuron.

They said the findings, based on tests on 30 children, might help to develop new ways to diagnose the condition.

The team from Northwestern University, in Chicago, said pupils with dyslexia might also need extra support in class.

Wireless technology

They said placing children with dyslexia in front of the teacher could make a big difference.

And they suggested other steps, such as providing such pupils with wireless technologies and noise-reducing headphones to pick up information better.

Dyslexia is a neurological disorder which affects reading and spelling skills in between 5% to 10% of children.

I think it shows that extra support is needed, especially one-to-one support
Dr John Rack, of Dyslexia Action

Recent research has suggested that children with the condition may struggle to process voices when there is competing noise.

The researchers set about testing the theory by getting children to watch a video with background noise, the journal Neuron reported.

At the same time, they were asked to repeat sentences they heard.

Lead researcher Professor Nina Kraus said the study was important in understanding the difficulties children with dyslexia face.

"The ability to sharpen or fine-tune repeating elements is crucial to hearing speech in noise because it allows for superior tagging of the voice pitch," he said.

She said further research was now needed into the issue.

Dr John Rack, of Dyslexia Action, said the findings were "interesting".

"This builds on what we already know. I think it shows that extra support is needed, especially one-to-one support.

"Busy, vibrant classrooms are a good thing and I would not want to see children with dyslexia taken out of them though."

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