There many possible areas of difficulty that lead to a literacy delay, and while this should not be taken as an exhaustive list, here are some of the most likely possibilities that would affect a child’s literacy development, specifically with reading.
Poor letter to sound correspondence
This one is the most obvious and is often easily picked up at school, however not as easily rectified. Understanding the link between the letters and their paired sounds or letter to sound correspondence is common in individuals with dyslexia. For these individuals, it takes a lot more intervention that the amount provided at school. For these children especially, specialised techniques such as The Spalding Program are recommended.
Poor phonological awareness
Phonological awareness refers to the representation of sounds in our brain and the ability to manipulate these sounds. For example, in the word ‘CLAP’, there are 4 sounds the ‘C’, ‘L’, ‘A’ and ‘P’. For a child with poor phonological awareness, it may be hard to distinguish the ‘CL’ cluster into two different sounds and therefore they may leave of one sound and instead read the word as CAP instead. For these children, phonological awareness training is recommended to improve their ability to read and spell a range of word types.
Poor verbal comprehension
When reading a passage, a child is expected to not only decode (sound out individual sounds to make a word) but also string each word together to understand a sentence, which they must then tie together to understand the story in its entirety. Underpinning all of this is the child’s ability to understand verbal language. This is because if a child is not able to understand a spoken passage then even if they are able to decode the symbols into the words and sentences, if they are unable to process these words and sentences, then they cannot decipher meaning from it. For these children we recommend specific receptive language therapy, depending on the level where understanding has broken down.
These are some of the areas a speech pathologist assesses, in order to determine the individuals area of weakness. This allows us to provide the correct intervention that will have the greatest benefit for literacy development.
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This article was written by our Speech Pathologist Ashleigh Fattah who is a Speech Pathology Australia member. If you have questions about language activities, make an appointment. We‘ll provide you with simple and effective therapy targeted to your concerns. Contact us today.