Robin van Rijthoven

10 Chapter 1 Reading and spelling abilities are crucial for school success (Savolainen et al., 2008), access to the labour market, and communication in todays (digital) knowledge society (de Greef et al., 2014). Theories regarding learning to read and spell emphasise that in order to become a proficient reader and speller, an efficient recurrent network of phonological, orthographic, and semantic representations needs to be built, which is also known as the triangular framework (e.g., Seidenberg & McClelland, 1989). A strong recurrent network enables children to decode words fluently, which is essential for the future development of reading comprehension (Stanovic, 2000; Verhoeven & Van Leeuwe, 2009). Children with developmental dyslexia (henceforward dyslexia) stay behind in their reading and spelling development and there seems to be consensus that multiple factors combine and/or interact to cause difficulties in learning to read and spell (Catts et al., 2017; McGrath et al, 2020; O’Brien & Yeatman, 2021; Pennington, 2006; Protopapas, 2019; Van Bergen et al., 2014b). This Multifactorial model of dyslexia includes causes from genetic, neural, cognitive, and environmental level (see Zuk et al., 2020). Among the factors on a cognitive level a large amount of research supports the notion that reading and spelling problems of children with dyslexia are associated with deficiencies in phonological processing (Melby-Lervåg et al., 2012; Pennington et al., 2012). As a consequence, childrenwithdyslexia oftenhave inaccurate andunderspecified phonological representations (Conrad, 2008; Nation & Snowling, 2004), which results in difficulties in accurate and fluent reading and correct spelling (Lyon et al., 2003). Besides the weaknesses associated with dyslexia, there are also several resources/strengths that foster the reading and spelling proces (Catts & Petscher, 2020) and these are important to build on when addressing weaknesses (Protopapas, 2019). It is possible that children with dyslexia to a greater extent draw upon on relative strengths in the semantic and orthographic representations, the two other parts of the triangular framework, as a way to compensate for their weak phonological pathways. When the quality of the semantic representations increases, the lexical restructuring hypothesis assumes that this may cause pressure on phonological representations be strengthened as well (Metsala & Walley, 1998). A reciprocal connection between semantic abilities and phonology in the mental lexicon (Li et al., 2004) could indicate that the development of semantic abilities may give a boost to the development of phonological abilities (Van Goch et al., 2014) and thus indirectly facilitate the process of learning to read (e.g., Van Bergen et al. 2014a) and spell (Ouellette, 2010; Tainturier & Rapp, 2001). It has also been suggested that children use their semantic knowledge to circumvent phonological decoding deficits (Haft et al., 2016) and that children at risk for developing reading problems may use their early vocabulary knowledge to compensate for deficient phonological and reading abilities (Duff et al., 2015; Hulme et al. 2010; Torppa et al., 2010). So far, the possible compensatory role of semantic abilities and the ability to expand semantic abilities among children with dyslexia received scant attention in behavioural research.