Purpose: In this study, the authors evaluated literacy outcome in children with histories of speech sound disorder (SSD) who were characterized along 2 dimensions: broader language function and persistence of SSD. In previous studies, authors have demonstrated that each dimension relates to literacy but have not disentangled their effects. Methods Two groups of children (86 SSD and 37 controls) were recruited at ages 5-6 and were followed longitudinally. The authors report the literacy of children with SSD at ages 7-9, compared with controls and national norms, and relative to language skill and SSD persistence (both measured at age 5-6).
Results: The SSD group demonstrated elevated rates of reading disability. Language skill but not SSD persistence predicted later literacy. However, SSD persistence was associated with phonological awareness impairments. Phonological awareness alone predicted literacy outcome less well than a model that also included syntax and nonverbal IQ.
Conclusions: Results support previous literature findings that SSD history predicts literacy difficulties and that the association is strongest for SSD + language impairment (LI). Magnitude of phonological impairment alone did not determine literacy outcome, as predicted by the core phonological deficit hypothesis. Instead, consistent with a multiple deficit approach, phonological deficits appeared to interact with other cognitive factors in literacy development.