Background There is an increased prevalence of reading and related difficulties in children of dyslexic parents. In order to understand the causes of these difficulties, it is important to quantify the risk factors passed from parents to their offspring.
Method 417 adults completed a protocol comprising a 15-item questionnaire rating reading and related skills and a scale assessing ADHD symptoms; 344 completed reading, nonword reading and spelling tests.
Results A confirmatory factor analysis with four factors (Reading, Word Finding, Attention and Hyperactivity) provided a reasonable fit to the data. The Reading Factor showed robust correlations with measured literacy skills. Adults who reported as dyslexic, or rated their reading difficulties as more severe, gained lower scores on objective measures of literacy skills. Although the sensitivity of the new scale was acceptable, it tended to miss some cases of low literacy.
Conclusions Self-report scales of reading and of attention difficulties are useful for identifying adults with reading and attention difficulties which may confer risks on their children of related problems. It is important for research following children at family risk of dyslexia to be aware of these effects.