Children with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) exhibit wide variation in their behavior and educational profiles, which has made the development of effective teaching strategies difficult for many educators. The proposed study would attempt to remedy this problem through the development of rating forms that would provide specific, detailed information on individual children's learning strengths and needs. The results from these rating forms should then be directly linked to intervention strategies developed specifically for that profile of strengths and needs. A prototype for this system currently exists, based on Dr. Mel Levine's neurodevelopmental constructs. This system includes (1) a teacher-rating form covering the neurodevelopmental constructs, and; (2) a database consisting of over 2,000 teaching strategies linked directly to the profiles of strengths and needs outlined in the rating form. The proposed study would extend the already existing system to include rating forms and learning strategies specifically tailored for children with PWS. A multi-step procedure will be used to reach this goal, including the development of the rating forms based on the existing system and a contemporary review of current literature; distribution of the rating forms to families and teachers of children with PWS to determine the reliability and validity of these rating scales; a smaller study using our clinical sample to examine how these rating scales relate to direct assessments of the neurodevelopmental constructs; and publication of learning strategies found to be useful for children with similar profiles of strengths and needs. The final product from this project will be PWS-specific rating forms and linked learning strategies, which can be used by parents and teachers in order to provide the optimal learning environment for the individual with PWS.
J. Greg Olley,Ph.D. Associate Director, Children's Center for Development and Learning
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill