Predicting dyslexia using prereading skills: the role of sensorimotor and cognitive abilities

Julia M. Carroll*, Jonathan Solity, Laura R. Shapiro

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: It is well established that phonological awareness, print knowledge and rapid naming predict later reading difficulties. However, additional auditory, visual and motor difficulties have also been observed in dyslexic
children. It is examined to what extent these difficulties can be used to predict later literacy difficulties. Method: An unselected sample of 267 children at school entry completed a wide battery of tasks associated with dyslexia. Their
reading was tested 2, 3 and 4 years later and poor readers were identified (n = 42). Logistic regression and multiple case study approaches were used to examine the predictive validity of different tasks. Results: As expected, print
knowledge, verbal short-term memory, phonological awareness and rapid naming were good predictors of later poor reading. Deficits in visual search and in auditory processing were also present in a large minority of the poor readers.
Almost all poor readers showed deficits in at least one area at school entry, but there was no single deficit that characterised the majority of poor readers. Conclusions: Results are in line with Pennington’s (2006) multiple deficits view of dyslexia. They indicate that the causes of poor reading outcome are multiple, interacting and probabilistic, rather than deterministic. Keywords: Dyslexia; educational attainment; longitudinal studies; prediction; phonological processing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)750–758
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Issue number6
Early online date12 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016

Bibliographical note

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.

Funding: ESRC (RES-000-22-1401); Leverhulme Trust; and the British Academy


  • dyslexia
  • educational attainment
  • longitudinal studies
  • prediction
  • phonological processing


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