The auditory backward recognition masking (ABRM) and intensity discrimination (ID) thresholds of children with a specific language impairment and poor reading (SLI-poor readers), children with an SLI and average reading (SLI-average readers), children with a specific reading disability and average spoken language skills (SRD-average language), and children with normal spoken and written language (controls) were estimated with "child-friendly" psychophysical tasks. The pattern of ABRM and ID scores suggests that a subset of children with concomitant oral language and reading impairments has poor ABRM thresholds, and that a subgroup of children with an SLI or SRD has poorer ID thresholds than controls. The latter result warns against using rapid auditory processing tasks that do not actively control for auditory discrimination ability. Further, some unusually poor ABRM scores and ID scores question the validity of extreme scores produced by children on psychophysical tasks. Finally, the poor oral language scores of many of the children who had impaired reading highlight the need to test the oral language skills of SRD samples to ascertain how homogeneous and specifically disabled they really are.