Research Update: RTI, Motor Control, Sleep and Brain Development in Autism, E-Readers and Dyslexia

Effectiveness of a 10-Week Tier-1 Response to Intervention Program in Improving Fine Motor and Visual–Motor Skills in General Education Kindergarten Students

This study, published in the September/October American Journal of Occupational Therapy, discussed a short-term program designed to address fine and visual motor skills on an RTI basis. The program, titled the Specialized Teaching and Enhancement of Performance Skills for Kindergarteners, or STEPS-K, was implemented in several kindergarten classrooms, and incorporated weekly lessons with classroom center activities. The authors found a small but significant improvement in test scores, using the Beery–Buktenica Developmental Test of Visual–Motor Integration, 5th edition and the Bruininks–Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency, 2nd Edition, and no change in pencil grasp (measured with the Developmental Scale of Pencil and Crayon Grips).


Sleep Education Helps Families of Children with Autism

Researchers from Vanderbilt, the University of Colorado Denver, and the University of Toronto recently measured the impact of parent education on improving the sleep of children with autism. The interventions were comprised of shorter, individual sessions, or longer, small group meetings. Parents were provided with education about sleep and autism, specific strategies and individualized development of sleep schedules and routines. Both intervention strategies demonstrated an improvement in parent competence. Additionally, the materials used in the interventions are available for free, online at Autism Speaks, including the Sleep Tool Kit and Quick Tips. 

Motor control development may extend into late adolescence, study finds

Francisco Valero-Cuevas, with other researchers from the University of Southern California, have combined bio-medical engineering and physical therapy to develop a precise measure of fine motor dexterity. This new technology has allowed researchers to discover new information about how and when children develop fine motor skills. The children tested were aged 4-16, and all were continuing to build their skills, advancing our knowledge, as previous research had found growth up to age 10.

Brain dysfunctions: shared mechanisms in fragile X syndrome, autism and schizophrenia at neuronal synapses

An international team of neuroscientists have found a protein called CYFP1 has a tremendous impact on brain development, in particular, how synapses are formed and connections regulated. This disruption of brain connections has been found to occur in several conditions, including fragile X syndrome, autism, and other intellectual disabilities. It is possible that the interactions between other proteins, and this key protein, CYFP1, maybe be causing similar changes in brain synapses, that result in different presentations of symptoms and deficits.

E-Readers Are More Effective than Paper for Some with Dyslexia

In this open-access journal article, researchers from the Smithsonian explored the potential benefit of using an E-Reader as a form of assistive technology for high school students with dyslexia. The features of the e-reader allow for the amount of text displayed to be modified easily. They found that shorter lines of text had a positive effect on both reading speed and comprehension. These findings are relevant for presenting all types of visual information to students with dyslexia, whether or not using an e-reader.


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