Growth of reading skills in children with a history of specific language impairment (SLI): The role of autistic symptomatology and language related abilities

M.C. St. Clair, Kevin Durkin, G. Conti-Ramsden, A. Pickles

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34 Citations (Scopus)


Individuals with a history of specific language impairment (SLI) often have subsequent problems with reading skills, but there have been some discrepant findings as to the developmental time course of these skills. This study investigates the developmental trajectories of reading skills over a 9-year time-span (from 7 to 16 years of age) in a large sample of individuals with a history of SLI. Relationships among reading skills, autistic symptomatology, and language-related abilities were also investigated. The results indicate that both reading accuracy and comprehension are deficient but that the development of these skills progresses in a consistently parallel fashion to what would be expected from a normative sample of same age peers. Language-related abilities were strongly associated with reading skills. Unlike individuals with SLI only, those with SLI and additional autistic symptomatology had adequate reading accuracy but did not differ from the individuals with SLI only in reading comprehension. They exhibited a significant gap between what they could read and what they could understand when reading. These findings provide strong evidence that individuals with SLI experience continued, long-term deficits in reading skills from childhood to adolescence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-131
Number of pages22
JournalBritish Journal of Developmental Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010


  • spectrum disorders
  • follow up
  • developmental lag
  • working memory
  • oral language
  • SLI
  • comprehention
  • adolescence
  • literacy
  • difficulties

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