Name: Lenin Grajo, EdM, OTR/L, OTRP
Department: Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Research Focus: Mr. Grajo's work focuses broadly on children's learning disabilities and specifically on children's reading difficulties and its impact on academic achievement. Mr. Grajo is currently developing and testing an occupation-based practice model (The Occupation of Reading) to improve the reading participation and engagement of children with reading difficulties. He is pilot-testing a goal setting and outcome measurement tool called The Inventory of Reading Occupations (IRO) as part of the practice model.
Current Research Project 1
Title: Understanding Reading as an Occupation: A Qualitative Exploration of Participation Patterns of Children with Reading Difficulties
Study Design: Qualitative Research
Example Data Collection Strategies: Interviews, classroom observations, reading logs.
Objective: The goal of this qualitative investigation is to answer the following questions:
- How do children with reading difficulties participate in reading occupations?
- How often do they read, what do they read and what do the patterns of performance look like?
Background: Reading has been traditionally defined as the ability to decode printed visual symbols into a spoken sound which it designates (Walcutt, 1967). Contemporary literature has defined reading as a process in which children learn to use cues in identifying words in text (Tunmer & Greaney, 2010). Reading has been understood as a skill that children acquire to successfully participate in school-related tasks and other daily living skills. The current trend in the education and neuroscience dyslexia literature is in understanding how reading abilities can be improved in children with reading difficulties.
Resources defining reading as a meaningful activity that children participate in have been scarce in the education field. The closest existing definition of reading as an occupation is termed functional reading in classical literature. Functional reading is the ability to read and understand materials which are directly related to everyday living, materials which one must read to function in our society (Kirsch & Guthrie, 1977-78). This definition of functional reading include the materials being read and reading instruction provided in the context of daily functioning (Stevenson, 1978). There is no literature in the fields of occupational science and occupational therapy exploring and defining reading as an occupation that children and adolescents participate in to fulfill many life roles.
Current Research Project 2
Title: Occupational Therapy Intervention for Children with Reading Difficulties: A Pilot Study
Study Design: Single Case Experiments
Example Data Collection Strategies Outcome measures using standardized tests of reading efficiency; questionnaires on reading motivation and reading inventory, reading journals and logs.
Objective: This pilot study will use The Occupation of Reading Practice Model (ORPM), a guide to using occupation-based interventions for children with reported reading difficulties currently being developed by the principal investigator. Using the Cognitive Orientation to daily Occupation (CO-OP) approach (Polatajko & Mandich, 2004), 15 children from 2 private schools with reported reading difficulties not necessarily formally diagnosed with developmental dyslexia, will receive 16 (twice a week for 8 weeks), multi-sensory, occupation-based therapy sessions. This pilot study will explore the effectiveness of the CO-OP approach and an occupation-based practice model, both of which have never been used and documented for children with reading difficulties.
Background: Dyslexia is characterized by an unexpected difficulty in children and adults who otherwise possess the intelligence, motivation, and schooling considered necessary for accurate and fluent reading (Shaywitz et al., 2001). Difficulties with reading impact successful participation in many school-related tasks and activities of daily living (Shaywitz & Fletcher, 1999). These difficulties also affect an individual’s fulfillment of his/her student and various life roles. Poor phonological processing is a core of reading failure (Vidyasagar & Pammer, 2009), and several studies have identified that phonological deficits are present in almost all children with dyslexia with variable secondary problems (Stanovich, 1988). Reading specialists, trained teachers, and speech language pathologists provide dyslexia management in schools and private facilities using an academic and curriculum-specific approach. Typical reading interventions focus on developing phonological processing skills and fluency. Many studies have documented the effectiveness of language-based dyslexia intervention and identified scientific evidence of related changes in the brain as a result of phonologically-grounded interventions (e.g. Krafnick, Flowers, Napoliello & Eden, 2011; Odegard, Ring, Smith, Biggan & Black, 2008). However, contemporary literature reports that as many as 30% of children with dyslexia do not have expected phonological deficits or do not respond to phonology-based remediation alone (Laycock & Crewther, 2008; Ramus, 2003; Wolf, 1999; Wright & Conlon, 2009). Further, the potential role of occupational therapy - a related service for children with special education needs - has not been thoroughly explored in relation to evaluation and intervention for children with reading difficulties.