Date of Award

Spring 2021

Degree Type



Communication Sciences and Disorders

Director of Thesis

Dr. Suzanne Adlof

Third Reader

Krystal Werfel


This systematic review examined studies of individuals with developmental language disorder (DLD) to examine the rate of co-occurring reading impairment. We hypothesized that recruitment method, age, and the type of diagnostic reading assessment would be associated with different rates of reading impairment in individuals with DLD. We searched the database PsycINFO for peer-reviewed academic articles containing specific keywords related to DLD/SLI and Dyslexia, resulting in a total of 286 studies. These articles were then filtered to ensure that all articles analyzed in the present study only examined children below the age of 18, were a study of children with DLD/SLI, included a reading measure, were written in English, and stated the number/percentage of children with comorbid DLD/SLI and reading impairment. We organized the data in a chart that focused specifically on the following factors: recruitment method, mean age, and type of diagnostic reading assessment. From this, we found that caseload studies were the most common article in our review and they tended to have higher rates of comorbidity than any other type of study. Additionally, comorbidity rates tended to increase with age, and word reading assessments tended to have lower comorbidity rates than those determined by reading comprehension. However, there was a lot of overlap in comorbidity rates across all studies. Overall, this study sheds light on the co-occurrence of DLD/SLI and reading impairment and the importance of providing these children with written language support. It also brings awareness to the influence that methodological decisions related to recruitment/assessment methods might have on a study sample. This influence may lead to higher or lower reported comorbidity rates and potentially impact the conclusions drawn related to DLD/SLI.

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