Specific spelling disorder

Clinical features

In ICD-10, the main characteristic of this disorder is a specific and significant impairment in the development of spelling skills in the absence of a history of specific reading disorder, which is not solely accounted for by low mental age, visual acuity problems, or inadequate schooling. The children have difficulties in spelling orally and writing words correctly. For this diagnosis, the following criteria are required (ICD-10).

• The spelling performance of the child should be significantly below the expected level regarding age, general intelligence, and school placement. This has to be assessed individually by administration of a standardized spelling test.

• The reading skills should be within the normal range and there should be no history of preceding reading difficulties.

• The spelling difficulties should not be due to grossly inadequate teaching, to sensory deficits, or to neurological disorders or dysfunctions. They should not be acquired, either as a result of neuropsychiatric or any other disorders.

In DSM-IV, there is no category that corresponds exactly to the ICD-10 category 'Specific spelling disorder'. The DSM-IV category that most closely resembles 'Specific spelling disorder' is 'Disorder of written expression', as defined by measured writing skills substantially below the expected level, interference with academic achievement, and, in the case of a sensory deficit, writing skills greater than the difficulties usually associated with sensory deficits.

It is uncertain whether a pure spelling disorder as described in ICD-10 actually exists or whether spelling skills usually overlap with other functions that constitute scholastic skills. It is, however, possible to assess the different functions separately, as several studies show.

Diagnosis and differential diagnosis

The diagnosis is made according to the criteria mentioned above and by the administration of standardized spelling tests.

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Adult Dyslexia

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