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Emerging evidence of the high variability in the cognitive skills and deficits associated with reading achievement and dysfunction promotes both a more dimensional view of the risk factors involved, and the importance of discriminating between trajectories of impairment. Here we examined reading and component orthographic and phonological skills alongside measures of cognitive ability and auditory and visual sensory processing in a large group of primary school children between the ages of 7 and 12 years. We identified clusters of children with pseudoword or exception word reading scores at the 10th percentile or below relative to their age group, and a group with poor skills on both tasks. Compared to age-matched and reading-level controls, groups of children with more impaired exception word reading were best described by a trajectory of developmental delay, whereas readers with more impaired pseudoword reading or combined deficits corresponded more with a pattern of atypical development. Sensory processing deficits clustered within both of the groups with putative atypical development: auditory discrimination deficits with poor phonological awareness skills; impairments of visual motion processing in readers with broader and more severe patterns of reading and cognitive impairments. Sensory deficits have been variably associated with developmental impairments of literacy and language; these results suggest that such deficits are also likely to cluster in children with particular patterns of reading difficulty.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





472 - 481


Acoustic Stimulation, Age Factors, Analysis of Variance, Awareness, Case-Control Studies, Child, Cognition, Discrimination (Psychology), Dyslexia, Female, Humans, Male, Neuropsychological Tests, Perceptual Disorders, Phonetics, Photic Stimulation, Reading, Vocabulary