CHILDREN with dyslexia and their families are to benefit from a ground-breaking £1.26 million project in York.

Researchers at the University of York have been granted cash from the Wellcome Trust for a five-year project to look at the overlap between dyslexia and language impairment in young children.

As part of the research, academics are looking for 225 children aged about three years who they will follow for four years.

They should be from a family with a history of reading problems and have spoken language difficulties or are typically developing them.

Professor Maggie Snowling, from the university's psychology department, said: "It is now established that children who have pre-school speech or language difficulties are at high risk of reading difficulties.

"We are recruiting three-year-old children at risk of reading difficulties either because they have a family history of dyslexia or because they have significant language delay.

"We also aim to recruit typically developing children of the same age and attending similar pre-school educational provision."

Following recruitment, each family will be visited on five occasions at approximately nine-month intervals, to monitor the development of the child from age three to seven years.

Visits will comprise assessments of the child, interviews and the completion of questionnaires by the family.

Every effort will be made to ensure that the five research sessions are designed to be as enjoyable as possible for the children.

The total testing time per visit will vary depending on the age of the child and researchers would like to see them for two hours initially and up to four hours when they reach school age.

Professor Snowling said: "We are seeking volunteers from the north-east of England, primarily the Yorkshire and Humberside regions.

"We aim to include children from a wide range of backgrounds and so we are seeking help with referrals from health and education professionals. Interested families can also refer themselves."

Parents will be provided with a feedback report after each assessment visit and will receive an annual newsletter outlining key findings from our study.

Anyone wanting to take part in the study should contact the centre for reading and language, at the department of psychology, University of York, York, YO10 5DD, phone (01904) 434366 or email All the information about participants in this study will be kept confidential and data will be anonymous.

Why are the subjects so young?

SO why are the children talking part so young?

This research project is investigating what places children at risk of reading problems.

Researchers know a great deal about dyslexia and also that children whose spoken language development is slow often have problems learning to read. They are therefore trying to understand the relationship between oral language and reading skills and this starts when children are young and first developing these skills.