Speech Pathology Services — Literacy

There are a number of reasons why a child may experience challenges in learning to read, write and spell. For instance, some children may:

  • not have been taught literacy in a way that best meets their learning needs;
  • present with Dyslexia, which is described as a neuro-developmental difference in the way they are able to engage the speech and language processing skills needed for adequate literacy development;
  • present with delays in the development of their speech and language abilities yet go on to develop strong literacy skills once these delays have been successfully targeted and combined with explicit, hierarchical literacy teaching.

We do know there are links between learning to read, write and spell and speech and oral language development.

How a speech-language pathologist can help

Speech-language pathologists are able to examine the underlying reasons why a child may be finding the development of literacy difficult. Speech-language pathologists can also provide the therapy or programming support necessary to better facilitate literacy development for a child based on that child’s particular strengths and challenges.

Speech-language pathologists form part of the child’s literacy support team in which the child and his or her parent/s are key. Judy places strong emphasis on the importance of a team approach in the identification and management of literacy development difficulties. Other members of this team may include teachers and educational psychologists.

The benefits of a literacy assessment

A literacy assessment will help professionals and parents better understand a child’s need for assistance in learning to read, write and spell. Such an assessment, as conducted by Judy at Solid Foundations, will typically involve the following steps.

  • An investigation of your child’s literacy progress to date. This involves an examination of current and previous school achievement records as well as a discussion with your child’s teacher, given your consent, regarding your child’s participation in and success with formal learning thus far. Judy will also discuss with your child’s teacher, given your consent, the teaching methodologies and strategies which have been tried with your child.
  • A comprehensive oral language assessment where aspects of vocabulary, semantic relationships, syntax and morphology development, important for strong literacy learning, are examined.
  • A comprehensive speech processing evaluation, which will examine speech production, phonological awareness and phonological working memory.
  • Thorough reading, writing and spelling assessments. Conducting these assessments will assist in determining your child’s current levels of development in these areas as well as analysing your child’s word attack strategies and current patterns of literacy learning.

Early identification and prevention of literacy development difficulties

It is not possible to predict precisely which children aged between 3 years and 5 or 6 years will develop Dyslexia and which ones will not. However, research has shown that certain indicators do exist which suggest that a child may be at a higher risk of developing later literacy learning difficulties. These indicative factors are speech and language related. A speech-language pathologist is able to evaluate the speech and language development of pre-literate children and provide guidance regarding those factors which have been identified as potentially identifying those children at higher risk for later literacy development difficulties.

You may wish to contact Solid Foundations if your child’s literacy development is of concern to you.