I am currently writing what I hope will be a "parent friendly" article on tests of Rapid Automatic Naming (RAN), why we look at this when evaluating for reading disorders, and current theories on the underlying cognitive processes it actually measures. There are many conflicting theories (as you know). I am particularly unclear as to whether this is always measured as a component of dyslexia testing, and whether people with dyslexia sometimes perform well on measures of phonological processing, but poorly on RAN tasks.

Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

Dr. Pierson's Response: 
Rapid Automatic Naming (RAN) is one of the pieces of phonological processing that we should habitually assess when making the diagnosis of dyslexia -- the others being phonological awareness and phonological memory. These three areas make up phonological processing. According to Dr. Maryanne Wolf, RAN (along with phonemic awareness) is one of the best predictors of reading fluency, as well as later reading ability. One's ability to fluently read contributes to reading comprehension.

Here is a quick overview of the double deficit hypothesis. And, yes, people with dyslexia can perform fine on RAN and poorly on phonological awareness and/or phonological memory and vice versa. That is why we should always assess the individual's underlying phonological awareness skills, phonological memory, and RAN -- to determine where the breakdown is for the child.

I have information on what a comprehensive assessment looks like here. I also have information about phonological awareness and RAN here http://dyslexiahelp.umich.edu/professionals/dyslexia-school. Additionally, I have a compendium of tests, including the Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing - 2, which is one of the tests that can be used to answer your question. I’d also recommend anything written by Dr. Wolf.

I congratulate you on writing a parent-friendly article and for striving to get your facts straight. There is so much information out there, some good and other...well, not-so-much. At DyslexiaHelp, I work very hard to steer parents toward research-based information about assessment and intervention. Our donor’s goal is to get information into the hands of those who need it no matter where they live. If you want to send your article upon completion, we could share it on our Facebook page.