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DLD and dyslexia

Adlof, S. M. (2020). Promoting Reading Achievement in Children With Developmental Language Disorders: What Can We Learn From Research on Specific Language Impairment and Dyslexia?. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 63(10), 3277-3292.

Aim of the paper:

Both Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) and dyslexia are disorders that can affect reading comprehension. It is now known that the disorders are different but often occur together. However, these two disorders have largely been studied separately. This paper aims to integrate research on DLD and dyslexia as well as to promote the need of considering both disorders together in the future.

What they found:

  • DLD and dyslexia are related to reading comprehension in different ways. DLD influences language comprehension, while dyslexia influences word reading.

  • More research is needed to understand whether language and cognitive factors can help distinguish DLD and dyslexia. However, a common finding from available research is that children with both DLD and dyslexia show the greatest weakness in language, cognitive and academic measures when compared to typically developing children, and children with only one disorder.

  • Speech and language disorders, especially DLD, are underdiagnosed. This is because there is a lack of public awareness for speech and language disorders and it is difficult for parents and teachers to recognize language impairments if there are no co-occurring speech sound problems.

  • More research is still needed to develop accurate and easy-to-use measurement tools for use in schools to find DLD or dyslexia.

What does this mean:

More research that looks at children is still needed to improve our understanding about the characteristics and causes of DLD and dyslexia. Knowing about how DLD and dyslexia develop may help improve diagnosis and intervention for these conditions.

A core finding of this paper is the under-identification of DLD. Not only does this present a challenge for research, it also means that some children with DLD are unable to receive the help that they need. To tackle this issue, speech and language therapists should help increase awareness of the role of oral language skills on reading comprehension. Also, all children known to have reading problems should be given an assessment of their language skills. Knowing that DLD and dyslexia often occur together could help to stop DLD from being hidden.

Where can I read this paper:

This paper is open access, which means everyone can read it.

Please click here to find the full paper.


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