Characteristics of Writing Disorders in Italian Dyslexic Children

Paola Angelelli, Anna Judica, Donatella Spinelli, Pierluigi Zoccolotti, Claudio Luzzatti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: This study characterizes the spelling impairment of Italian dyslexic children and evaluates the relationship between reading and spelling disorders. Background: Developmental spelling deficits are much less investigated than reading deficits. Based on the dual-model approach, studies of English-speaking subjects describe a surface and a phonological dysgraphia. In languages with shallow orthographies, there is evidence of surface and phonological dyslexia, but no data are available for dysgraphia. Methods: Eighteen dyslexic children were studied. Writing was investigated by means of a spelling test that included regular words with one-sound-to-one-letter correspondence, regular words requiring syllabic conversion rules, words with unpredictable transcription, and nonwords with one-sound-to-one-letter correspondence. The dyslexics' spelling errors were compared with those of 30 age-matched proficient readers. Results: The dyslexic participants were very slow readers. Their errors were compatible with the hypothesis of a prevalent use of the sublexical reading procedure (i.e., surface dyslexia). They were also generally impaired with respect to the control children in all subsections of the spelling test. However, multivariate and single case analyses as well as qualitative analysis of errors indicated that their major problem was writing words with unpredictable transcription. This failure was consistent with the view of prevalent subword level processing in writing. Conclusion: The pattern of the spelling impairment mirrors the children's reading impairment, with most children suffering from surface dysgraphia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-31
Number of pages14
JournalCognitive and Behavioral Neurology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2004


  • Developmental dysgraphia
  • Developmental dyslexia
  • Dual route model
  • Shallow orthographies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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