Children with Early Speech and Language Disorders at Risk for Later Reading Difficulties

by Valerie Johnston, MS, CCC-SLP

Research has shown that children who demonstrate speech and language disorders at an early age are at risk for experiencing difficulties when learning how to read and write. According to Catts (1991), approximately 50% of young children with speech and language impairments experience problems learning to read. Catts further states that there are several factors which might be important in the prediction of later reading disabilities. First, the longer the impairment has persisted the more likely the child is to have difficulty learning to read. Second, the more severely impaired children have more difficulty learning to read. And finally, children with language impairments (problems with semantics and syntax) are at much higher risk than are children with only articulation disorders. Specifically, the language-impaired children at the greatest risk are those with impairments in phonological awareness, verbal short-term memory and word-retrieval abilities.


Catts, H. (1991). Early Language Disorders and Reading Disabilities: A Clinical Connection. Clinical Connection. 5, 1-4.

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Last revised: September 14, 2003