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Lang Speech Hear Serv Sch. 2008 Oct;39(4):475-86. doi: 10.1044/0161-1461(2008/07-0016).

Reading trajectories of children with language difficulties from preschool through fifth grade.

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Department of Psychology, 530 Church Street, Room 1044, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1043, USA.



The current work examined which theory of reading development, the cumulative reading trajectory or the compensatory trajectory of development, most accurately represents the reading trajectories of children with language difficulties (LD) relative to their peers with typical language (TL) skills. Specifically, initial levels of reading skills, overall rate of growth, and patterns of growth were examined.


Children were classified according to whether or not they exhibited LD at 54 months of age (LD n = 145; TL n = 653), using data from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development's Early Child Care Research Network (see NICHD, 1993). A latent shape growth curve model was used to model reading skills at 4 time points from preschool through fifth grade.


In comparison to children with TL, children with LD showed lower reading skills in preschool, but their overall reading growth was faster. All children developed the skills associated with reading more rapidly at earlier ages compared to later ages. Children with LD continued to exhibit reading skills that were substantially lower than those of children with TL during fifth grade.


Results supported the compensatory trajectory of development. Speech-language pathologists are encouraged to adopt evidence-based practices in order to boost reading outcomes for children with LD beginning in preschool.

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