Developmental dyslexia: Related to specific or general deficits?

Victor Van Daal, Aryan Van der Leij

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

58 Citations (Scopus)


The present study was designed to examine the question of whether developmental dyslexia in 12-year-old students at the beginning of secondary education in the Netherlands is confined to problems in the domain of reading and spelling or also is related to difficulties in other areas. In particular, hypotheses derived from theories on phonological processing, rapid automatized naming, working memory, and automatization of skills were tested. To overcome the definition and selection problems of many previous studies, we included in our study all students in the first year of secondary special education in a Dutch school district. Participants were classified as either dyslexic, garden-variety, or hyperlexic poor readers, according to the degree of discrepancy between their word recognition and listening comprehension scores. In addition, groups of normal readers were formed, matching the poor readers in either reading age or chronological age. A large test battery was administered to each student, including phonological, naming, working memory, speed of processing, and motor tests. The findings indicate that dyslexia is associated with deficits in (1) phonological recoding, word recognition (both in their native Dutch and in English as a second language), and spelling skills; and (2) naming speed for letters and digits. Dyslexia was not associated with deficits in other areas. The results suggest that developmental dyslexia, at the age of 12, might be (or might have become) a difficulty rather isolated from deficiencies in other cognitive and motor skills.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-104
JournalAnnals of Dyslexia
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1999


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