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Develop mental dyslexia: predicting individual risk

Thompson, PA, Hulme, C, Nash, HM, Gooch, Deborah, Hayiou-Thomas, E and Snowling, MJ (2015) Develop mental dyslexia: predicting individual risk Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 56 (9). pp. 976-987.

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Causal theories of dyslexia suggest that it is a heritable disorder, which is the outcome of multiple risk factors. However, whether early screening for dyslexia is viable is not yet known.


The study followed children at high risk of dyslexia from preschool through the early primary years assessing them from age 3 years and 6 months (T1) at approximately annual intervals on tasks tapping cognitive, language, and executive-motor skills. The children were recruited to three groups: children at family risk of dyslexia, children with concerns regarding speech, and language development at 3;06 years and controls considered to be typically developing. At 8 years, children were classified as ‘dyslexic’ or not. Logistic regression models were used to predict the individual risk of dyslexia and to investigate how risk factors accumulate to predict poor literacy outcomes.


Family-risk status was a stronger predictor of dyslexia at 8 years than low language in preschool. Additional predictors in the preschool years include letter knowledge, phonological awareness, rapid automatized naming, and executive skills. At the time of school entry, language skills become significant predictors, and motor skills add a small but significant increase to the prediction probability. We present classification accuracy using different probability cutoffs for logistic regression models and ROC curves to highlight the accumulation of risk factors at the individual level.


Dyslexia is the outcome of multiple risk factors and children with language difficulties at school entry are at high risk. Family history of dyslexia is a predictor of literacy outcome from the preschool years. However, screening does not reach an acceptable clinical level until close to school entry when letter knowledge, phonological awareness, and RAN, rather than family risk, together provide good sensitivity and specificity as a screening battery.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences > School of Psychology
Authors :
Thompson, PA
Hulme, C
Nash, HM
Hayiou-Thomas, E
Snowling, MJ
Date : 2 April 2015
DOI : 10.1111/jcpp.12412
Copyright Disclaimer : © 2015 The Authors. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Uncontrolled Keywords : Familial (family) risk, dyslexia, reading disability, language skills, executive motor, early identification.
Depositing User : Melanie Hughes
Date Deposited : 15 Sep 2017 17:35
Last Modified : 16 Jan 2019 18:56

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