Dyslexia and early intervention: what did we learn from the Dutch Dyslexia Programme?

Dyslexia. 2013 Nov;19(4):241-55. doi: 10.1002/dys.1466.


Part of the Dutch Dyslexia Programme has been dedicated to early intervention. The question of whether the genetically affected learning mechanism of children who are at familial risk (FR) of developing dyslexia could be influenced by training phoneme awareness and letter-sound associations in the prereading phase was investigated. The rationale was that intervention studies reveal insights about the weaknesses of the learning mechanisms of FR children. In addition, the studies aimed to gather practical insights to be used in the development of a system of early diagnosis and prevention. Focused on the last period of kindergarten before formal reading instruction starts in Grade 1, intervention methods with comparable samples and designs but differences in delivery mode (use of computer or manual), tutor (semi-professional or parent), location (at school or at home), and additional practices (serial rapid naming or simple word reading) have been executed to test the hypothesis that the incidence and degree of dyslexia can be reduced. The present position paper summarizes the Dutch Dyslexia Programme findings and relates them to findings of other studies. It is discussed that the Dutch studies provide evidence on why prevention of dyslexia is hard to accomplish. It is argued that effective intervention should not only start early but also be adapted to the individual and often long-lasting educational needs of children at risk of reading failure.

Keywords: dyslexia; early identification; early intervention; familial risk; reading failure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Denmark
  • Dyslexia / epidemiology
  • Dyslexia / genetics
  • Dyslexia / therapy*
  • Early Intervention, Educational / methods*
  • Humans
  • Netherlands
  • Phonetics
  • Reading