Research has shown that children given phonological awareness instruction in their first year of school have increased literacy skills. This was shown to be true for children with and without language disorders. After 10 weeks of phonological awareness instruction, these 5-year old children demonstrated greater gains in phonological awareness, reading, and spelling tasks compared to 5-year-olds that only received phonics-based literacy instruction. This study found that only 6% of the children who received phonological awareness instruction continued to demonstrate decoding difficulties. In contrast, 26% of the children who received phonics-based literacy instruction continued to have difficulty decoding following the 10 weeks of instruction. This research highlights the importance of understanding the sounds associated with letters and words for reading success.
Classroom Phonological Awareness Instruction Improved Literacy Outcomes. The ASHA Leader, August 2013, Vol. 18, 36. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB1.18082013.36.
Do SLPs work on reading comprehension?
Yes, SLPs are responsible for oral language (comprehension and expression) and literacy (reading, writing, and spelling). We can offer relevant skills for reading comprehension because we have knowledge of language subsystems (syntax, semantics, morphology, pragmatics) and development. SLPs understand how oral language skills transfer to reading.
What is reading comprehension?
Reading comprehension is a complex and active process where the reader applies meaning to what they read.
What skills are involved in reading comprehension?
- Background/world knowledge
- Word/vocabulary knowledge
What strategies can help develop reading comprehension abilities?
There are many evidenced-based strategies that can support children with reading comprehension difficulties. The type of text (narrative or expository) can influence which type of strategies to use, as well as, the area of deficit.
- Active-prior/background knowledge – making connections between existing knowledge and new information. Use a Know/Want to Know/Learned (KWL) organizer which helps children think about their own experiences and make relevant connections to new information.
- Questioning answering – teaches children to ask questions about the text prior to reading and answer them after reading.
- Comprehension monitoring – Used with expository texts primarily. Helps children determine if they are/are not understanding the text. When children are not understanding, they need to utilize “fix up” strategies. The therapist models the process, teaches the child to look back in the text, re-read, question answering, and look up words.
- Mental Image/Visualize – In this technique you ask the reader build images in their mind of the text.
- Story/text structure – This strategy can be used with both expository and narrative story structure but the way it is taught differs.
o Expository – helps kids look for the language used in different expository text structures (sequence, compare/contrast, problem solving, procedural, enumeration, classification).
o Narrative – teaching kids to look for the setting, characters, problem, and solution.
Now that the weather has warmed up, you and your children may be eager to get outside and enjoy what the city has to offer. During these outings, you can encourage carry-over of your child’s specific speech and language goals (e.g., expanding vocabulary, formulating sentences, describing interesting objects, retelling events, answering questions, practicing words with certain speech sounds) while having fun with the family!
- For an outing just beyond your front door, take a nature walk with your child and discuss what you see. Take notice of plants growing, bugs crawling, birds chirping, and animal tracks.
- It’s always fun and free to visit Lincoln Park Zoo. Go on Wednesdays and Fridays for free sing-alongs with Mr. Singer.
- Take advantage of free museum days for Illinois residents. Check out Sue the T. Rex at the Field Museum, the mirror maze at MSI or the underwater critters at Shedd for free!
- Visit Old Town School of Folk Music on Saturdays to take part in group singing and instrument-playing. You don’t need to be enrolled in a class to join the fun!
- Kids can learn about animals and pretend to be a variety of forest creatures at Animal Secrets at Kohl Children’s Museum.
These are just some of the ideas, compiled from https://www.mommynearest.com/edition/chicago/article/50-free-things-to-do-with-kids-in-chicago.
Speech-Language Pathologists (or SLPs, as they’re often called) are experts in supporting communication. They work with children who present with a wide range of delays and disorders. You may be surprised to learn just how many areas an SLP can help your child with!
1) Articulation Skills/Speech Intelligibility: SLPs teach children how to produce speech sounds and sound patterns, thus improving their ability to be understood by others.
2) Expressive Language Skills: SLPs help children learn new words and teach them how to put words together to form phrases and sentences.
3) Receptive Language/Listening Skills: SLPs help children understand language to improve their ability to follow directions, answer questions, and participate in conversations with others.
4) Speech Fluency/Stuttering: SLPs teach children strategies to control stuttering behaviors to improve the flow of their speech.
5) Voice and Resonance: SLPs work with children to decrease vocally abusive behaviors and improve the quality of their voices.
6) Social/Pragmatic Language: SLPs teach children social language skills so that they can more appropriately participate in conversations with others.
7) Cognitive-Communication Skills: SLPs help children build skills in areas such as attention, memory, abstract reasoning, awareness, and executive functions.
8) Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC): AAC refers to all forms of communication other than oral speech that are used to express thoughts, needs, wants, and ideas. AAC can be used as a bridge to speech.
9) Swallowing/Feeding Issues: SLPs have knowledge of the structures and functions of the oral cavities and beyond!
10) Educating and Empowering YOU on how to best help your child: SLPs can help you incorporate more communication opportunities into your everyday routines.
For the full article, click the link below!
Is music a useful tool in speech therapy when working with children with ASD? Yes, when using other valuable treatment methods in addition. Music can be used to help establish joint attention, learn words, take turns, imitate, follow-directions, and ask and answer questions. It is a stimulant therefore it helps enhance memory which leads to an increase in attention and alertness. This is extremely valuable when teaching new concepts to children! Read more about it in the links below.
Daily routines (e.g. bathing, meals, shopping, car rides, getting dressed, etc.) provide great opportunities for language development in natural settings. Within these routines, children learn how their worlds are organized, begin to associate words/phrases with specific activities, make sense of social interactions, and practice participating in conversations. Through repetition of routines, children gain confidence and gradually take on more active roles. If a parent waits for the child to start a routine, such as squeezing the toothpaste on the toothbrush, the child can begin to understand his/her role as an initiator. A child’s motivation to understand is heightened in a situation in which he/she is an active participant. In addition, as specific vocabulary is repeatedly attached to an experience or activity, the clearer the meaning will become.
Fern Sussman, Program Director at the Hanen Centre, suggests the following guidelines to build opportunities for participation and learning into daily routines:
- Break routines into a series of small consistent steps so that there’s a shared understanding of how the routine works.
- Be flexible as young children learn best when you follow their lead.
- Label what the child is interested in at the very moment it seems to be his/her focus.
- Be creative! Routines can be made out of anything you do regularly!
A cognitive scientist, Mark Seidenberg, at the University of Wisconsin, Madison found that only a third of the nation’s schoolchildren read at grade level. He cites that the way children are taught to read is disconnected from how language and speech actually develop in a child’s brain. The current research shows that reading success depends on linking print to speech. Skilled reading is associated with children’s spoken language, grammar and the vocabulary they already know. Seidenberg claims that the basic science (of reading) does not go into the preparation for teachers and argues that literacy is not an “either/or” of phonics and whole language. He claims that children need both.
For parents who are wondering how they can work on their child’s speech and language goals at home, Shari Robertson, PhD, CCC-SLP from the ASHA Leader has identified five reasons that books are all you need! The reasons cited are:
1) Books provide a natural context for learning vocabulary: Research has found that children’s books contain approximately twice as many infrequently used or rare words than in conversation and also provide a model of more advanced grammatical structures.
2) Books are efficient: A single book can target multiple communication skills.
3) Books are convenient: Children’s books are portable and typically low-cost.
4) Books are fun: Choosing a story that a child is interested in and motivated to read can facilitate learning language and carryover of those skills.
5) They do not have LED screens: A growing body of evidence suggests negative effects of screen time in young children, particularly speech and language delays, disruptions in sleep patterns and mood swings.
For the full article and a list of books to read for each speech and language skill, click the link below!
Wilson Reading System is a research-based, systematic, multi-sensory reading program designed to improve the five areas of reading including phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. It is a 12-step program, with the first 6-steps teaching consistent foundational patterns, and the later 6-steps teaching more complex concepts. Letter-sound knowledge is taught systematically and paired with a multisensory approach as it is the building blocks for reading and writing. The multi-sensory approach is shown to activate more neurons during language learning and improve the chances that it becomes stored in long-term memory. The program is for students in grades 2-12 who have word-level deficits and poor sound/symbol systems for both reading and spelling. This program is appropriate for students with language-based learning disabilities, labored readers, students who know words by sight but have difficulty reading non-sense syllables, and students who speak and understand English but cannot read or write it. Wilson is frequently taught in schools in a group setting, pull-out services or through private reading tutors who are Wilson certified.
In speech therapy, Wilson concepts can be useful to many of our students who have poor phonological awareness and have difficulty learning to read. Using a multi-sensory approach to learning gives our students more than one pathway to retain and learn the information as they may struggle with the auditory channel alone.
The American Speech Language Hearing Association and Read Aloud 15 Minutes have collaborated on a series of handouts for parents that discuss speech and language development. The handouts are grouped by age and offer a bounty of useful information on communication and literacy skills. Check them out here.