For children with language and learning differences, reading comprehension can be a significant challenge. Reading comprehension skills can be an indicator of academic and psychosocial outcomes for school aged children. Children with language disorders often demonstrate difficulty answering inferential questions compared to typically developing peers. Inferencing abilities often are associated with vocabulary knowledge, single word reading accuracy, grammatical skill, and verbal working memory. There are two main types of inferences that are important to target in speech-language therapy: cohesive inferences and elaborative inferences. Cohesive inferences are conclusions drawn by establishing links between story elements within the text, whereas elaborative inferences are conclusions drawn by adding in background knowledge to the information provided in the text. When reading with your child, try to discuss how to “fill in the gaps”, make connections between story elements, and try to find relationships between words!
Gough Kenyon, S. M., Palikara, O., & Lucas, R. M. (2018). Explaining Reading Comprehension in Children With Developmental Language Disorder: The Importance of Elaborative Inferencing. J Speech Lang Hear Res, [Advance online publication], 1-15. doi: 10.1044/2018_JSLHR-L-17-0416
A recent study found that children who listen to audio via headphones have a significantly higher risk of noise-induced hearing loss compared to children who do not. As children begin to use technology more frequently (e.g. games on phones, tablets, video games, etc.), they may want to use headphones in order to play independently. However, it was found that children who use headphones were twice as likely to have hearing loss compared to children who did not use headphones at all, noting the significance of noise exposure at a young age. The study indicated that limiting the amount of time using headphones and lowering the volume may only eliminate the risk marginally. Noise-related hearing loss presents itself as muffled sounds or distant ringing in the ears. These symptoms may be temporary, however, can become more permanent with repeated exposure to noise.
Parents should try to encourage children to listen to audio without headphones by including siblings in a shared activity or by eliminating background noise so that the child can hear their activity without headphones. Checking in with your child to avoid a high volume may also be beneficial. Limiting a child’s screen time may support a decreased use of headphones overall!
As early as 2 and 3 years old, typically developing children begin producing narratives about what they see and do in their everyday life. As development continues, these narratives begin to include stories about the past, present, and future. Narrative language abilities are a foundational skill to higher level language such as analyzing, retelling, summarizing, and explaining written text. A deficit in narrative language production can affect a child’s academic performance and social skill abilities.
It is important that children utilize story grammar elements when developing narrative language skills, which act as a “cognitive map” to support the comprehension and production of narratives. Many kids who struggle to produce or comprehend narratives greatly benefit from visual supports (pictures, illustrations of a sequence of events) in order to teach story elements. Books, shared experiences, and videos can also be used to facilitate narrative language productions by emphasizing characters, setting, problem, solution, and other various story events. Many Speech-Language Pathologists use a variety of tools to supplement narrative development including topic boards, augmentative and alternative communication devices, sequencing pictures, and modeling.
Using picture sequences of a child performing a preferred activity is a great way to include sequential narratives into a daily routine. Once a child is accurately producing personal narratives, the focus can shift to summarizing and retelling stories from books.