The role of sensorimotor impairments in dyslexia: a multiple case study of dyslexic children


Address for correspondence: Sarah White, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, 17 Queen Square, London WC1N 3AR, UK; email:


This study attempts to investigate the role of sensorimotor impairments in the reading disability that characterizes dyslexia. Twenty-three children with dyslexia were compared to 22 control children, matched for age and non-verbal intelligence, on tasks assessing literacy as well as phonological, visual, auditory and motor abilities. The dyslexic group as a whole were significantly impaired on phonological, but not sensorimotor, tasks. Analysis of individual data suggests that the most common impairments were on phonological and visual stress tasks and the vast majority of dyslexics had one of these two impairments. Furthermore, phonological skill was able to account for variation in literacy skill, to the exclusion of all sensorimotor factors, while neither auditory nor motor skill predicted any variance in phonological skill. Visual stress seems to account for a small proportion of dyslexics, independently of the commonly reported phonological deficit. However, there is little evidence for a causal role of auditory, motor or other visual impairments.