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The 21st Annual Vernon Wall Lecture.
INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES IN CHILDREN'S READING DEVELOPMENT: SOUND AND MEANING IN LEARNING TO READ
Margaret J. Snowling, University of York
The 'Triangle' model of reading of Plaut and colleagues (Plaut, McClelland, Seidenberg & Patterson, 1996) is used a framework for considering individual differences in children's reading development. In the early stages of learning to read, resources are devoted to establishing a system for mapping letters on to sounds as a foundation for decoding skills. At this early stage, individual differences in letter knowledge and phoneme awareness predict reading achievement even when differences in IQ are controlled. Later in development, however, semantic as well as phonological skills are independent predictors of reading fluency. With these findings as a back-drop, the paper considers the developmental dissociation between dyslexia (poor decoding skills) and poor reading comprehension (poor word recognition and reading comprehension in the face of normal phonological skills). However, such pure dissociations are rare in development. The framework is also productive for considering how semantic skills can act to exacerbate reading problems in children with general language delay, or as protective factors to allow compensation for decoding difficulties in children with a genetic disposition for dyslexia. The implications for reading interventions are also considered.