This study explored the fundamental auditory processing of sound amplitude in Chinese children with both reading and language difficulties. Fifteen children with Chinese reading difficulties (RD), fifteen children with Chinese reading difficulties and specific language impairments (RD-SLI), and sixteen age-matched controls (CA) were recruited from local primary schools in Taiwan. The three groups were compared specifically on phonological awareness and auditory amplitude onset discrimination. Our preliminary results confirmed that age-matched controls performed significantly better on all of the phonological and auditory measurements, compared to both groups of children with RD. Children with RDSLI performed significantly worse than children with RD in Chinese character recognition. Also Chinese children with RDSLI were found to be poorer in phonological performance and to be more insensitive to complex sound amplitude onset, compared with Chinese children with RD. We concluded that poor auditory discrimination of sound amplitude onset might be fundamental to characterize Chinese children with reading difficulties and language impairments.
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