Distinguishing DD from SLI. Language profiles of Italian dyslexic children with and without specific language impairment



Although Developmental Dyslexia (DD) and Specific Language Impairment (SLI) are two distinct disorders, DD and SLI children can show comparable difficulties with written and oral skills which may make a definite diagnosis difficult. This study explores reading and its relations with some sensitive skills (rapid naming, syntactic comprehension, and syntactic production) in a sample of Italian DD children with and without SLI to investigate possible distinctive patterns for different disorder profiles. DD children with and without SLI show comparable reading performances but differ in that SLI children have additional naming and clitic production deficits. Typical error patterns emerge for rapid naming by SLI children and typical compensation strategies for clitic production by SLI and younger DD children. Quantity and quality of correlations between reading and other skills are proportional to the severity of the impairment. The use of an ad hoc reading test, as well as a possible implementation of the syntactic comprehension test, is suggested.