Perceptual organization, phonological awareness, and reading comprehension in adults with and without learning disabilities

Stothers, Margot; Klein, Perry D.
December 2010
Annals of Dyslexia;2010, Vol. 60 Issue 2, p209
Academic Journal
It is not clear from research whether, or to what extent, reading comprehension is impaired in adults who have learning disabilities (LD). The influence of perceptual organization (PO) and phonological awareness (PA) on reading comprehension was investigated. PO and PA are cognitive functions that have been examined in previous research for their roles in nonverbal LD and phonological dyslexia, respectively. Nonverbal tests of PO and non-reading tests of PA were administered to a sample of adults with postsecondary education. Approximately two thirds of the sample had previously been diagnosed as having LD. In a multiple regression analysis, tests of PO and PA were used to predict scores for tests of reading comprehension and mechanics. Despite the nonverbal nature of the perceptual organizational test stimuli, PO strongly predicted reading comprehension. Tests of PA predicted decoding and reading speed. Results were interpreted as supporting the hypothesis that integrative processes usually characterized as nonverbal were nonetheless used by readers with and without disabilities to understand text. The study's findings have implications for understanding the reading of adults with learning disabilities, and the nature of reading comprehension in general.


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