The deaf helping doctors learn more about dyslexia

Dyslexia affects millions of our kids. It makes reading and writing a frustrating challenge.

But a special group of kids is providing valuable insight into the disorder.

Carson Cecchini was born deaf, but he's made remarkable progress. As a toddler, he got cochlear implants.

The cochlear implants capture sound waves around him then feed them directly to nerves near his brain.

His mom Donna Cecchini says, "He could not speak. And now I have a child who reads and speaks and laughs and he doesn't have to go to speech therapy."

It's just that kind of progress researchers were hoping to chart when they launched a study nearly a decade ago.

The idea was to follow more than one hundred children for years to see how cochlear implants might help them learn.

But then researchers noticed something else.

Dr. Susan Nittrouer, with Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center says, "Once you begin to scratch the surface, you often find that these children have language deficits than can affect their performance in school."

In fact, the language issues these kids have are remarkably similar to dyslexia.

Doctors know that kids with dyslexia have problems seeing letters in the proper order.

But in a new study, Dr. Nittrouer says these kids may have shown hearing plays a vital role as well.

"We can really connect the dots between their perception, the kind of signal that they're getting, and the sort of language problem that results."

Dr. Nittrouer says by poring over a decade of research on these kids, scientists may be able to detect signs of dyslexia-like issues much earlier.

Most kids aren't diagnosed until around third grade, but Dr. Nittrouer says, "We were able to identify these emerging problems in these children at kindergarten."

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