Document Type


Subject Area(s)

Child; Dyslexia; Humans; Language Development Disorders; Language Disorders; Language Tests; Memory, Short-Term; Reading; Specific Language Disorder


Purpose Specific language impairment (SLI; see also developmental language disorder) and dyslexia are separate, yet frequently co-occurring disorders that confer risks to reading comprehension and academic achievement. Until recently, most studies of one disorder had little consideration of the other, and each disorder was addressed by different practitioners. However, understanding how the two disorders relate to each other is important for advancing theories about each disorder and improving reading comprehension and academic achievement. The purpose of this clinical focus article is to integrate research on SLI and dyslexia as well as advocate for the consideration of comorbidities in future research and clinical practice. Method The first section reviews definitions as well as inclusionary and exclusionary criteria for SLI and dyslexia. The second section reviews research demonstrating that SLI and dyslexia are different disorders that often co-occur. Studies examining language, working memory, and academic achievement in children with separate versus co-occurring SLI and dyslexia are reviewed. The final section compares and contrasts school identification frameworks for children with SLI and dyslexia and considers the potential benefits of incorporating broad language skills into response to intervention (RTI) assessment frameworks. Conclusions Children with weak language skills are at a high risk of experiencing reading problems, but language difficulties are often hidden from view. Directly addressing language skills within school RTI frameworks can help improve the identification and treatment of children with SLI and dyslexia as well as support improved reading comprehension and academic achievement for all students. Presentation Video

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

APA Citation

Adlof, S. (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.