When Speech Issues Affect Literacy

Posted by Big Universe on Oct 8, 2013 8:00:33 PM


Literacy can be challenging for many children, but those with speech issues have a tougher time, adversely affecting children’s reading, writing, and spelling, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), citing studies indicating that “children with language impairments are four to five times more likely than normally developing children to have reading difficulties during the school years.”

When my sons were younger, I had concerns about their developing (and lack of) speech. How do you know what is typical speech development versus “something is going on?” At the time, my youngest was receiving Birth to Three services, and I asked his speech pathologist this. She told me, when your child’s speech issues come through their writing, then you know that there is an issue. For example, you can see articulation issues in spelling errors.

For those of you who have speech concerns, and no access to a speech therapist, you can always call an Early Intervention Agency for a free speech evaluation or your pediatrician can point you to available ones in your state. ASHA provides a list of elementary school level milestones., which are also a good resource for those of us who have children with speech goals on their IEP.

My son’s grade school teacher works closely with the school language pathologist and special education teacher – sharing writing samples to guide speech objectives and goals. But at home, we’ve been struggling finding that “just right” book for reading assignments. I found books that I assumed would be easy and then surprisingly they had difficult vocabulary. EVen with visual; clues that provided word context, my son he wasn't familiar with the word or its meaning.

So at our latest clinic meeting (an informal team meeting once every two months), I brought in the selection books that frustrated both of us. I asked the team which books were appropriate – and which were not. I was surprised at how there was not not a clear cut answer. It turns out, regardless of reading level, my son still has to read books that aren’t on the recommended list. His cub scout manual, for example. His Special Education teacher suggested that I first read the sections aloud and then have him reread them to me. This enables him to hear how the unfamiliar words are spoken, allowing him to be more successful when he gets his turn.

We discussed reading programs on the computer too, and this will count toward reading minutes. Big Universe read alouds allow for reading modeling too. And it is easy to find the developmentally appropriate reading level. If you know your child’s reading level, you can choose that – or just select grade, interest age, academic subject or even language. There are books for every reader -- and as the text is read, the words are highlighted. In a relaxed setting -- compared to the tears that come with a child struggling with reading -- articulation and word recognition are not the barriers that stnad in the way of comprehension. They can still be active reading participants, and even learn to enjoy reading.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Topics: Special Education, Literacy

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