• Open Access

Children Who Read Words Accurately Despite Language Impairment: Who Are They and How Do They Do It?


  • This research was supported by a programme grant from the Wellcome Trust (053335/Z/98/A) based at the Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, and by a Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellowship awarded to Dorothy Bishop. We thank the twins and their families and teachers who participated in this research. This study would not have been possible without generous assistance of Robert Plomin, Bonamy Oliver, Alexandra Trouton, and other staff from the Twins Early Development Study. Thanks are also due to Courtenay Norbury and Caroline Adams, who were responsible for data collection of twins at 6 years of age, and to Kate Nation and Uta Frith for helpful comments.

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concerning this article should be addressed to Dorothy Bishop, Department of Experimental Psychology, Tinbergen Building, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3UD, United Kingdom. Electronic mail may be sent to dorothy.bishop@psy.ox.ac.uk.


Some children learn to read accurately despite language impairments (LI). Nine- to 10-year-olds were categorized as having LI only (= 35), dyslexia (DX) only (= 73), LI + DX (= 54), or as typically developing (TD; = 176). The LI-only group had mild to moderate deficits in reading comprehension. They were similar to the LI + DX group on most language measures, but rapid serial naming was superior to the LI + DX group and comparable to the TD. For a subset of children seen at 4 and 6 years, early phonological skills were equally poor in those later classified as LI or LI + DX. Poor language need not hinder acquisition of decoding, so long as rapid serial naming is intact; reading comprehension, however, is constrained by LI.