The Seeds of Literacy: Early Indicators of Later Literacy and Dyslexia

  • 06:30 PM

SPELD NSW is hosting

Prof. Denis Burnham, MARCS Institute, Uni. of Western Sydney

who will be talking on

The Seeds of Literacy: Early Indicators of Later Literacy and Dyslexia


When:              Wednesday, 16 October 2013 – From 6.30 PM – 9.00 PM

Where:            SPELD NSW Offices, 2 / 172 Majors Bay Rd, Concord. (entry via McCarthy Lane)

Audience:       Teachers, Teacher’s Aides, Tutors and Parents

Cost:                 $50 Members, $70 non members.

To book:          Call SPELD NSW on 9739 6277 or email

                            **Bookings Essential as we can only cater for small groups of up to 14


CLICK HERE to register on line now


Prof. Denis Burnham, Professor in Psychology and Director, MARCS Institute, University of Western Sydney.

Prof. Burnham will be accompanied by Dr. Marina Kalashnikova, a Postdoctoral Fellow working on the ‘Seeds of Literacy’ project.

Since 1999 Prof. Burnham has been Director of the MARCS Institute which consists of 100+ people working in five** different research programs . He has more than 35 years’ experience conducting research on infant and child speech perception development and associated areas such as literacy; and at MARCS he is Leader of the Speech & Language Research Program and Leader of the MARCS BabyLab.

The Seeds of Literacy: Early Indicators of Later Literacy and Dyslexia


This talk has 2 sessions:

1.   To convey information about research being conducted at the MARCS Institute BabyLab concerning literacy and dyslexia and

2.  An open forum for sharing and gathering information from the audience regarding their experiences with dyslexic children.

Session 1: – Information about MARCS Institute BabyLab Research. The Seed of Literacy is funded by the Australian Research Council and is concerned with identifying early indicators of later literacy and dyslexia. The project has two main parts and in the first part of the talk Prof. Burnham will cover:

Seeds Project Part 1: Infants from 5 months and children: • 5 year longitudinal study in which 120 infants are followed from 5 months through to 5 years. • Longitudinal part of the ‘Seeds’ project involves behavioural and brain imaging tests of auditory thresholds, attunement to native language sounds and measures of caretakers’ infant-directed speech and later tests of phonological awareness, speech production and reading.

Research showing:

i) Intimate connections between infants’ auditory discrimination, Caretakers’ infant directed speech and Child’s later vocabulary level

ii) Infants’ attunement to native language sounds is related to measures of cognitive maturity and possibly to delay in infants at-risk of dyslexia.

iii) Various measures of acoustic sensitivity are strong predictors of dyslexia in school-aged children.

The ‘Seeds’ project involves:

i) Auditory processing tests

ii) Profile infants’ perceptual ability

iii) Evaluate whether early abilities predict later language and reading development

iv) It is hoped to provide early indices against which other infants’ and children’s abilities may be compared.

Seeds Project Part 2: Toddlers and School-Aged Children The ‘Seeds’ project also incorporates cross-sectional studies at particular older ages – from toddlers through to school-aged children. Pre-school and school aged children who are at risk for dyslexia (by virtue of having at least one dyslexic parent), children who have already been diagnosed to be dyslexic, and children who are not at risk for dyslexia will be studied in this part of the project in a range of studies.

One particular study will be described and ideas for another set out.

Session 2 – Open Forum for Sharing and Gathering Information This session we are particularly interested in hearing from teachers, parents and other interested parties:

• On their experiences with dyslexic children and views about dyslexia

• With their comments and input on the two parts of the ‘Seeds’ project

• Children who could participate in the project.

**The five programs mentioned above are : Speech & Language; Music Cognition and Action; Multisensory Processing; Bioelectronics & Neuroscience; Human-Machine Interaction.


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