Are reading abilities and verbal working memory related in boys with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy?
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Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is a hereditary x-linked disease which causes progressive muscle weakness, and approximately 1 in every 3500 boys is affected. The current study compared information processing skills, verbal working memory and behavioral functioning of 78 Dutch boys with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (mean age 10.0 years) with the population mean. Reading performance was measured in 44 boys with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and the association between verbal working memory and reading performance was investigated by correlations and by investigating possible differences in reading abilities between boys with an average or normal verbal working memory and boys with a low verbal working memory. The results showed that boys with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy have poor information processing skills, poor verbal working memory, and poor reading skills in comparison with the normal population. 61% Of the boys with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy had reading problems, of which 36% had serious reading problems. Reading problems appear to be related to verbal working memory abilities rather than to parent-rated attention problems. An early and systematic screening of boys with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is suggested to detect possible verbal working memory problems which might indicate that they are at risk of reading problems at an older age.