The co-occurrence of neurodevelopmental problems in dyslexia

Dyslexia. 2021 Aug;27(3):277-293. doi: 10.1002/dys.1681. Epub 2021 Mar 24.


The primary aim of this study was to explore the overlaps between dyslexia and a range of neurodevelopmental disorders and problems (NDPs), specifically symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorder, atypical sensory perception and developmental coordination disorder. Capitalizing on a population-based sample of twins, secondary aims included estimating the heritability of dyslexia and reporting on the measurement characteristics of the scale used to assess dyslexia. A telephone interview regarding symptoms of dyslexia and other NDPs was conducted with parents of 1,688 nine-year-old twins. The prevalence and the heritability of dyslexia were estimated at 8 and 52%, respectively. The boy: girl ratio was 1.5:1. Results revealed that there was more than an eight-fold increase in (diagnostic proxy) NDPs prevalence in the dyslexia group as compared to typical readers. Quantitatively measured symptoms of inattention, oral language problems and atypical sensory perception significantly predicted dyslexia status in a multivariate analysis. By contrast, ASD-related inflexibility was inversely associated with dyslexia in the multivariate model. In sum, dyslexia often overlaps with other NDPs. The current study provides new knowledge supporting the position to move beyond isolated diagnostic categories into behavioural profiles of co-occurring problems when trying to understand the pattern of strengths and needs in individuals with dyslexia.

Keywords: ADHD; autism; comorbidity; dyslexia; perception; reading.

Publication types

  • Twin Study

MeSH terms

  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity* / epidemiology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity* / genetics
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder* / complications
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder* / epidemiology
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder* / genetics
  • Child
  • Comorbidity
  • Dyslexia* / epidemiology
  • Dyslexia* / genetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parents
  • Prevalence