Document Type


Subject Area(s)

Child; Child Language; Child, Preschool; Dyslexia (diagnosis, etiology, psychology, rehabilitation); Humans; Language Development Disorders (complications); Language Tests; Language Therapy (methods)


Purpose: The purpose of this tutorial is to discuss the language basis of dyslexia in the context of developmental language disorders (DLDs). Whereas most studies have focused on the phonological skills of children with dyslexia, we bring attention to broader language skills. Method: We conducted a focused literature review on the language basis of dyslexia from historical and theoretical perspectives with a special emphasis on the relation between dyslexia and DLD and on the development of broader language skills (e.g., vocabulary, syntax, and discourse) before and after the identification of dyslexia. Results: We present clinically relevant information on the history of dyslexia as a language-based disorder, the operational definitions used to diagnose dyslexia in research and practice, the relation between dyslexia and DLD, and the language abilities of children with dyslexia. Conclusions: We discuss 3 clinical implications for working with children with dyslexia in school settings: (a) Children with dyslexia-with and without comorbid DLDs-often have language deficits outside the phonological domain; (b) intervention should target a child's strengths and weaknesses relative to reading outcomes, regardless of diagnostic labels; and (c) those who have dyslexia, regardless of language abilities at the time of diagnosis, may be at risk for slower language acquisition across their lifetime. Longitudinal studies are needed to assess multiple language skills early, at the time of the diagnosis of dyslexia, and years later to better understand the complex development of language and reading in children with dyslexia.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

APA Citation

Adlof, S., & Hogan, T. (2018). Understanding Dyslexia in the Context of Developmental Language Disorders. Language, Speech, And Hearing Services In Schools, 49(4), 762-773.