Exploring the Phonological Profiles of Children with Reading Difficulties: A Multiple Case Study

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  • Birmingham City University


Studies of group differences have established that the phonological profiles of people with reading difficulties contain both strengths and weaknesses. The current study extends this work by exploring individual differences in phonological ability using a multiple case study approach. A heterogeneous sample of 56 children (M age = 9 years) with reading difficulties completed a battery of tasks measuring literacy, phonological processing, expressive vocabulary, and general ability. The phonological tasks included measures of phonological awareness (PA), phonological memory (PM), and rapid naming (RAN). A majority – although not all – of the children had phonological processing impairments. However, there was also substantial variability in the nature of children’s phonological difficulties. While multiple impairments encompassing two or more phonological domains were most common, impairments that were specific to PA, PM, or RAN also occurred frequently. Even within the domain of PA, where children completed three well-matched tasks, individual children were rarely impaired across all three measures and a number of different profiles were observed. Additional, group-level analyses indicated that PA was a significant predictor of decoding while RAN was a significant predictor of automatic word recognition and comprehension. Findings are discussed with reference to conceptual models of phonological processing and implications for assessment.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • Dyslexia, phonological awareness, phonological memory, RAN, multiple case study