Genetic Testing Can Help Inform Reading Struggles in Children

Dyslexia, ADHD, visual processing disorders, and language-based learning disorders are just some of the many, common reasons some children might struggle with reading. Often, our schools don’t have the resources to identify learning challenges early enough for effective interventions. It’s no wonder that 66% of US 4th graders read below proficiency level1. Even more startling, without intervention, at-risk children have more than 90% chance of never attaining grade level reading skills2.

Reading intervention before 3rd grade can prevent or help close the gap on reading struggles3

Thanks to the latest genetic research from Yale University and many academic centers around the world, it is now possible to detect genetic variants associated with reading traits and skills independently of a child’s age or reading skill level. Genetics, along with lifestyle and environment, plays a critical role in overall health and learning abilities. Personalized genetic insights can provide you with a more comprehensive understanding of your child’s reading abilities, empowering you to take proactive measures to safeguard their reading development while the optimal window for learning to read is open.

Research shows that parents with reading problems are more likely to have children with reading problems4.

No more guessing or wondering:

We all know that children’s growth and pace of development vary. That’s why Sharpen empowers parents, caregivers, teachers and reading professionals with the opportunity to detect whether a child is at risk for developing reading problems earlier than ever before. Knowledge of your child’s reading-related genetic traits and skills combined with the results of the Sharpen Early Advantage Assessment provide a comprehensive learning profile for your child. While genetic insights do not predict or diagnose reading problems, they can greatly influence your approach with education professionals to support your child’s reading development now and in the future. It’s important to understand the full picture of your child’s assessment score and consider if now is the right time for reading support.

Reading intervention provided to at-risk readers in Kindergarten is significantly more effective compared to when given to at-risk readers in Grades 1 and 25.

Easy process. Easy to understand data. 

We make sure that our scientific process is user-friendly so that everyone can benefit from it in a significant way. The process is easy to follow. Getting started is simple: 


place order on to receive our home-based sample collection kit


use it to swab your child's cheeks


once sample is collected send it back to our lab for DNA analysis using our prepaid package


Once the results are in, we will send you a summary of the findings and provide opportunities for further learning

At Sharpen, we believe that science should be trustworthy and reliable, which is why we hold ourselves to the highest standards of rigorous scientific and privacy standards. You can find more information about how our process works and what the Genetic Reading Trait Report can and cannot do in our FAQs. As the research on genetics and reading continues to advance, we will update our community on the latest scientific discoveries and additional evidence-based data and information. 

I’ve got my results... So now what do I do?

Reading difficulties can have many different causes, and genetics is just one piece of the puzzle. The genetic insights offer an opportunity to better understand your child’s reading challenges and explore appropriate reading supports and strategies, such as the Sharpen Reading Program. You can also support reading development at home by monitoring progress and creating a language-rich environment. And don't forget to loop in your child's educators to understand specific areas where they may need additional support.

Early, explicit, systematic, and evidence-based reading interventions enable up to 75% of at-risk children to catch up to reading at grade level3.

All kids can and deserve the opportunity to read at grade-level. Here at Sharpen we are dedicated to transforming the way families & communities identify and support their child's reading difficulties because every child should have the opportunity to learn to read with confidence. We are here to guide you in the early stage identification of your child’s reading development.

Free Sharpen Parent Guide

Download our free parent guide to learn more about how the Sharpen family of products can work to support your child’s reading journey every step of the way.

Learning Genetics


1: NAEP. (2019). The Nation's Report Card: 2019 Reading Assessment. National Assessment of Educational Progress

2: Francis, D. J., Shaywitz, S. E., Stuebing, K. K., Shaywitz, B. A., and Fletcher, J. M. (1996). Developmental lag versus deficit models of reading disability: A longitudinal, individual growth curves analysis. Journal of Educational Psychology, 88(1), 3-17.

Juel, C. (1988). Learning to read and write: A longitudinal study of 54 children from first to fourth grades. Journal of Educational Psychology, 80(4), 437-447.

Shaywitz, S. E., Fletcher, J. M., Holahan, J. M., Schneider, A. E., Marchione, K. E., Stuebing, K. K., Francis, D. J., Pugh, K. R., and Shaywitz, B. A. (1999). Persistence of dyslexia: The Connecticut longitudinal study at adolescence. Pediatrics, 104(6), 1351-1359.

3: Torgesen, J. K. (2000). Individual differences in response to early interventions in reading: The lingering problem of treatment resisters. Learning disabilities research & practice, 15(1), 55-64.

Lovett, M. W., Frijters, J. C., Wolf, M., Steinbach, K. A., Sevcik, R. A., & Morris, R. D. (2017). Early intervention for children at risk for reading disabilities: The impact of grade at intervention and individual differences on intervention outcomes. Journal of Educational Psychology, 109(7), 889-914.

4: DeFries, J. C., & Gillis, J. J. (1991). Etiology of reading deficits in learning disabilities: Quantitative genetic analysis. In J. E. Obrzut & G. W. Hynd (Eds.), Neuropsychological foundations of learning disabilities: A handbook of issues, methods, and practice (pp. 29–47). Academic Press.

5: Wanzek, J., Vaughn, S., Scammacca, N., Gatlin, B., Walker, M. A., & Capin, P. (2016). Meta-analyses of the effects of tier 2 type reading interventions in grades K-3. Educational Psychology Review, 28, 551-576.