Objective: The research on phoneme discrimination in connection with dyslexia has focused mostly on reading ability. The aim of this study was to analyse phoneme discrimination in relation to spelling ability in the context of different school grades.
Method: The data of 253 children in school grades 1 to 6 who were seen for diagnosis of dyslexia and auditory processing disorder were analyzed retrospectively. Phoneme discrimination was assessed via the Heidelberger Phoneme Discrimination Test at 3 levels: auditory discrimination, repetition of minimal pairs, and analyzing the initial consonants in phoneme clusters.
Results: We found a high correlation of phoneme discrimination and spelling ability in the lower school grades. While the phoneme discrimination deficit still showed up in higher grades, its influence on spelling ability was greater in the first two grades. In the whole population, phoneme discrimination proved to be a significant criterion for differentiating poor and normal spelling ability.
Conclusion: Speech and language therapy and auditory processing training for dyslexic children should be adjusted according to these results.