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Are Reading Disabilities Genetic?

Release Date: May 28, 2024 |  Run Time: 42:11 |  Download Episode 6 transcript

Do you know a child who has difficulty spelling or sounding out words? Maybe they feel stressed or anxious when it comes to reading, or they try to avoid it altogether?

These symptoms could be a sign of a reading disorder, which is the most common form of a learning disability.

In this episode, we discuss the prevalence and impact of reading disorders and the latest science, including what scientists are learning about the genetic links and what that could mean for new approaches and treatments for reading and learning disabilities in the future.

Listen to the full episode and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and everywhere else you get your podcasts.

Bonus Content: Listen to an extended version of Matthew Cote's story, where he talks about being inspired to become a teacher to help others who are struggling in school.

Matthew Cote | Run Time: 14:14 |  Download bonus content transcript


Dr. Cathy Barr  
Dr. Cathy Barr

Dr. Cathy Barr is a Senior Scientist at UHN's Krembil Brain Institute and the Hospital for Sick Children, and is a Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Physiology at The University of Toronto. She holds the Labatt Family Chair in Depression Biology in Children. Dr. Barr's research is focused on the study of childhood-onset psychiatric and cognitive disorders using genetics to identify risk genes and molecular studies, to better understand how the genes functional differently in cells. Additionally, her team uses stem cells to model neural cell function for childhood disorders, particularly reading disabilities and is currently recruiting families with children with reading disabilities from Ontario, to participate in studies.

Dr. Maureen W. Lovett  
Dr. Maureen W. Lovett

Dr. Maureen W. Lovett is a Senior Scientist Emeritus in Neurosciences and Mental Health at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and Professor Emerita of Paediatrics at the University of Toronto. Dr. Lovett has contributed to reading disabilities research and practice for the past four decades and is known particularly for her research on reading interventions. She founded and directed SickKids' Learning Disabilities Research Program (LDRP), a clinical research team that developed and evaluated evidence-based interventions for children and youth who struggle to learn to read, for more than 35 years. The program evolved to become the current EmpowerTM Reading and Learning Group at SickKids, bringing these evidence-based programs to children and teens in school boards/districts in Canada and parts of the US. In 2017, she received the Samuel T. Orton Award, the highest honour of the international Dyslexia Association. Since 2020, Dr. Lovett has served as an Associate Director of the Haskins Global Literacy Hub at Yale University and the University of Connecticut.

Matthew Cote  
Matthew Cote

Matthew Cote is a teacher and advocate for those living with learning disabilities, including reading disabilities. Matthew has lived experience with learning disabilities.

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