Reading is a very complex process that includes two independent, but strongly interconnected skills, decoding and comprehension. However, poor text comprehension, although widespread and with critical consequences, is a relatively new area of investigation. This review examines the existing literature on poor text comprehension, analyzing the main national and international diagnostic indications and synthesizing the results from studies that have examined the related cognitive and metacognitive deficits, the potential educational, psychological and social effects and its development. Literature analysis confirms the need of recognizing the specific nature of the disorder and the existence of a "typical" cognitive and metacognitive profile, characterized by specific deficits in inferential processes, working memory, attention and metacomprehension. These difficulties tend to persist over time and negatively affect academic, social and occupational path (Willcutt e Pennington, 2000; Shaywitz et al., 1999). In the absence of proper treatment, the disease becomes chronic and lasts through time in its specificity. However, the differential diagnosis may be still difficult. Therefore, adequate assessment process is essential for proper identification. Indeed, early diagnosis and proper treatment can substantially improve the prognosis (Torgerson e Elbourne, 2002), reducing the risk of chronic disability, with positive effects on the child and his/her family, but also on the community, through a reduction of costs for assistance (Carretti at al., 2002).
Keywords: Poor comprehenders, specific learning disorders, reading comprehension.