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Psychosocial correlates of dyslexia across the life span

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 March 2009

Elizabeth A. Boetsch
University of Denver
Phyllis A. Green
University of Denver
Bruce F. Pennington*
University of Denver
Bruce F. Pennington, University of Denver, Dept. of Psychology, 2155 S. Race, Denver, CO 80208.


This series of four studies examined the psychosocial functioning of children, adolescents, and adults with developmental dyslexia. One sample of nonreferred dyslexic and nondyslexic men, and three different samples of dyslexic and normally achieving control children and adolescents were studied. The child samples included both clinic-referred and nonreferred populations, and sibling and nonsibling control designs. Variables assessed included depressive and ADHD symptomatology, self-concept and, in the adult sample, socioeconomic status and other life adjustment variables.

We found that, across three samples, children and adolescents report lower global self-worth and lower perceived competence in scholastic domains, more depressive symptomatology, and (both by self- and parent report) more ADHD symptomatology than normal achievers. In contrast, adult dyslexic men, while also perceiving themselves as less intelligent than their peers, reporting more generalized psychological distress, and showing less social mobility, were nonetheless comparable to their peers in terms of global self-worth, depressive symptomatology, and other indices of adult adjustment and satisfaction. Results are discussed in terms of a developmental “niche-finding” model, in which the shift into adult life may foster more constructive experiences and internal processes.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1996

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