Predicting reading outcomes

Erisman, M. C., & Blom, E. (2020). Reading outcomes in children with developmental language disorder: A person-centered approach. Autism & Developmental Language Impairments, 5, 1-18.

Aim of the paper:

Many children with DLD develop reading problems. However, children with DLD differ greatly from one another in multiple areas, including areas related to reading problems, e.g. phonological memory, spoken language and executive functions. This paper aims to understand which children with DLD are more likely to develop reading problems by:


1. Finding out how children with DLD can be divided into subgroups based on their oral language, phonological memory and executive function.


2. Finding out whether these subgroups differ in non-verbal IQ and reading outcomes two years later.


Key terms-


Phonological memory: The ability to temporarily hold speech-related information.


Executive function: A set of mental skills needed for controlling behaviour.


Working memory: The ability to keep information in your mind while doing complex tasks, like learning and reasoning.

What they found:


  • Four subgroups were found:

  • Group 1: Weak performance overall

  • Group 2: Average language and phonological memory with strong executive function

  • Group 3: Average language, phonological memory and attention with low working memory ability

  • Group 4: Strong performance overall


  • Group 1 had the lowest non-verbal IQ, followed by group 3, group 4 and group 2.


  • Group 1 had the poorest reading outcome, followed by group 3. This means children with DLD with a weak performance on all measures and children with average language and phonological memory but mild working memory difficulties are most at-risk of reading problems. The children in groups 2 and 4 had similar reading scores to children without DLD.

What does this mean?


The findings of this paper suggest that subgroups can be identified based on children’s oral language, phonological memory and executive function. Also, the varying combinations of these differing levels of abilities might explain the different reading outcomes seen in each subgroup.


The authors say that we need a person-centred approach to understand reading abilities in children with DLD. A focus on individual patterns of strengths and weaknesses will be useful for predicting reading problems in children with DLD.

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.