Although many people are familiar with the terms “specific reading disorder” or “dyslexia” there are many subtypes of reading disorder that are not so widely known. It is unusual for a child to suffer from just one subtype of reading disorder in most cases children children with developmental reading disorders will show symptoms of more than one (Coltheart & Nikels 2002a). Phonological and surface dyslexia are well know Phonological being that a child has difficulties reading nonwords and unfamiliar words when sounding out,
Facebook phone job applicationsA recent report recently found that half australia’s working age population between 7 and 8 million people do not have the literacy or numeracy skills required of them by their job. Literacy skills begin to form early in life and are the building blocks of education.
Specialists such as Speech Pathologist, Psychologists and Pediatricians will use a variety of this “lingo” in there reports, it is important that you get them to clarify what this means for your child and how will it impact on their school learning and accessing the curriculum. From a Speech Pathology perspective we often see children with Auditory Processing Difficulties struggle with literacy to tease out whether a child has dyslexia or auditory processing disorder special audiological tests can be obtained from Macquarie University to establish whether ADP is an issue for your child.
Why is it important to get the whole picture??? To establish severity and priority.
Helping Children with literacy difficulties A Speech Pathologist’s Perspective By Tracy Mee (MA Speech & Language Pathology)
What is Literacy? According to Speech Pathology Australia “Literacy is more than just reading and writing.” Being literate means reading and analysing as well as writing for different purposes eg texting, atms, stories and reading for pleasure. Being literate is essential for life-long learning, communication, employment and participation in community.
Speech Pathologists and their role in literacy Speech pathologists are specialists in identifying communication problems and providing intervention to develop critical language and literacy skills. Skills such as speaking and listening, sound awareness and language comprehension all provide the building blocks for literacy acquisition.
Identifying those at risk A pre-school child with early speech and or language difficulties or a family history of reading difficulties may experience difficulties. A child in primary school might have difficulty analysing the sounds in words and relating them to the written word. An adolescent in high school might find that although they can read the words they have difficulty understanding and summarising notes. A child with a brain injury who may need to read to optimise their communication.
How do we recognise a reading disorder? The DSM IV (Diagnostic Statistical Manual IV) Reading achievement, as measured by standardised tests (accuracy and comprehension) is substantially below what would be expected given age, measured IQ and education. The disturbance significantly interferes with academic achievement or daily living. If a sensory deficit is present, the reading difficulties are in excess of those usually associated with it.
What does this really mean? In “100 Ideas For Supporting Pupils with Dyslexia” Green and Reid state “Dyslexia is a processing difference experienced by people of all ages. Often characterised by difficulties in literacy, it can affect other cognitive areas such as memory, speed of processing, time management, co-ordination and directional aspects. There may be visual and phonological difficulties and there is usually some discrepancy in performance in other areas of learning. It is important that individual difference and learning styles are acknowledged since these will affect outcomes of learning and assessment. It is also important to consider the learning and work context as the nature of the difficulties associated with dyslexia may well be more pronounced in some situations”.
The Dyslexia Umbrella As each person is an individual, people with dyslexia can present with their own individual difficulties and combination of difficulties. This may mean that the assessment process may involve a few professionals assessing a variety of different skills. Under her ‘dyslexia umbrella’ Liz Dunoon (2009) states the following difficulties:
Dys – meaning difficultyLexia – meaning language Difficulty with reading Difficulty with spelling Difficulty with pronunciation and muscle tone (verbal or motor dyspraxia) Difficulty with handwriting (dysgraphia) Auditory Dyslexia (Auditory Processing Disorder) Difficulty with memory, attention, recall and response Difficulty with organisational skills – executive functioning Difficulty with spatial relations, orientation and direction – visual processing Difficulty with numbers – dyscalculia Difficulty with rhyme an rhythm – Auditory dyslexia
The mechanics of reading The dual route theory suggests that there are steps from first seeing a word to reading it and understanding it. There are 3 steps in the visual orthographic stage – letter identification (recognising) – letter position and association. Next the word is processed via two different roads for example regular words and new words can be sounded out with the letter- sound correspondences (non lexical route – Coltheart et al 2001). For irregular words which can not be sounded out recognition needs to take place before the word is spoken and occurs as part of the lexical route (Coltheart et al 2001). In dyslexia one or more than one of these processing steps is lacking or not working. Therefore the cause of dyslexia is neuro-biological in origin and can be developmental or part of an acquired brain injury.
Do they have the skills? Phonology – sound system Memory – active, sequential and working Cohesion – auditory processing and auditory reasoning Attention Motor Planning Memory + Attention = Learning
Assessment – The multidisciplinary Team A Speech Pathologist can assess language comprehension, reading, spelling, auditory processing and phonological awareness, phonemic awareness and rapid automatic naming. A Psychologist can assess IQ, reading, spelling and achievement in maths and literacy. Also address issues of low self esteem and development of emotional and behavioural difficulties An Occupational Therapist assesses motor, spelling, visual processing, perceptual difficulties A Behavioural Optometrist/Orthoptist – assesses visual processing
Intervention for the at risk preschooler Preparing children for literacy involves immersing them in an environment where reading and writing are natural and meaningful in their every day lives Develop a positive attitude towards print Get excited about books and show them your favourite books when you were a child. Show interesting articles from magazines and newspapers Show them that writing is a natural part of your day Don’t just read the book – get animated – use voices, sound effects and lots of gestures - make it fun
Intervention for the at risk preschoolercont… Use signs and labels at your child’s level and point to the words are you read aloud For craft help them make their own books and devlop their story-telling skills by writing down the stories they dictate. Emphasise rhyming words during games and songs and nursery rhymes Use tongue twisters Point out interesting things about words or names that are the same and different – how many claps are there in Sam-an-tha? Mummy and Molly have the same sound at the beginning. Create a writing centre where you both sit and write with white boards or magnetic letters
The development of reading (Chall 1983) Decoding – grades 1-2, ages 6-7 – children need to learn the relationship between spoken sounds and words and the written symbols representing those sounds. There are seventy common sounds – some children will need to be explicitly taught these sounds using a multi-sensory method. Say – hear – write Confirmation and fluency – grades 2-3, ages 7-8 Children move beyond accuracy to fluency – the sounds become more automatic – children can not concentrate on meaning if they are still decoding. Reading for information – grades 4-8, ages 9-13 Children learn to connect print to speech and connect print to ideas – the shift from learning to read to reading to learn.
Intervention for High School – a metacognitive approach Get them to identify their difficulties – do you have difficulties in putting your ideas into words? Do you read something but don’t get meaning? Are you good at proof-reading your work How are the organisational skills? What can you do about it? Reading – Read something every day – even if it’s just facebook Ask Teachers to photocopy hand outs
Intervention for High School – a metacognitive approach Get the books on audio Use mind maps for planning writing tasks Record your ideas on tape Decide which words they NEED to spell Develop mnemonics – Big Elephants Can Always Understand Small Elephants Learn the 29 rules of spelling Focus on the positive – what are they good at – celebrate their strengths If you have a lot to remember visualise yourself doing it
LINDAMOOD AUDITORY DISCRIMINATION METHOD “Auditory conceptual skills are important for spelling and reading. Students with poor ‘auditory conceptual’ skills will have difficulty breaking words they hear into their component sounds (for spelling) and will have problems blending a series of sounds into a whole word for (reading). Students with poor ‘auditory conceptual’ skills therefore have difficulties developing ‘sounding out’ or ‘phonic attack’ skills and are forced to rely on their visual ‘rote’ memory when learning new reading and spelling skills.
THE SPALDING METHOD The Spalding Method provides clear instruction in handwriting, and would explicitly teach the relationships between letters and sounds.
The Spalding Method develops spelling and increases sight vocabulary for reading. It explicitly teaches the relationships between letters and sounds (for example, students learn that the sound /n/ can be represented by three different sets of letters, as in now, knife and sign; and that a single letter such as ‘o’ can have several different sounds, as in hot, hope and do and that the letters ea can make three different sounds such as in eat, head and great).
The Spalding Method also teaches sequential processing through sounds and letters in words when reading and spelling, and provides extensive instruction in applying spelling rules to words. As well as teaching ‘sounding out’ strategies, the Spalding method also develops ‘sight vocabulary’, by teaching whole-word recognition, and linking written words to their meanings.
Visualising and Verbalising (Nanci Bell) What is Visualizing and Verbalizing (V & V)?
“If I can’t picture it, I can’t understand it.” - Albert Einstein
Children who have difficulty understanding language are often found to have problems retaining and recalling information. The brain ‘sees’ in order to store and process information. Both thinking and language comprehension have their bases in imagery.
In this program the students are going to learn strategies to help increase use of imagery and to improve language comprehension and memory. • Visualising & Verbalising (V & V) is a program that assists - Reading and oral comprehension - Expressive language skills - Descriptive skills - Narrative and written expression - Critical thinking
Other intervention programs A specific diagnoses of the particular subtype of reading difficulty your child has provides a good basis for developing a specific remediation program. There are many in Australia The Lindamood Program www.lindamoodbell.com The Spalding Program www.spalding.org The Lexia Program www.lexialearning.com.au Cellfield – www.cellfield.com Fast For Word www.scilearn.com.au
Classroom Management Taking notes in the classroom involves a division of attention between listening and writing, children with auditory deficits often find this particularly challenging. Difficulties with writing and spelling may leave the child struggling with “hearing” the spoken message. Should the child’s writing be poorly organized and lacking in key elements, assistance with writing skills may be beneficial for the child.
Positive reinforcement should be used generously to keep children motivated during the day.
Avoidance of auditory fatigue can be overcome with regularly planned “listening breaks” or times when listening is kept to a minimum to avoid auditory fatigue.
Metacognitive strategies are designed to assist listeners in thinking about and planning methods of enhancing spoken language comprehension. Mnemonic strategies such as chunking (breaking down long messages or links into smaller components) and elaboration (use of analogies and acronyms) may be beneficial for the child.
Discourse cohesion devices (training in the rules of language) may also be beneficial. Words that help the child to order or sequence steps (eg first, last) or adversative terms (but, however, although). Once the child has become adept at identifying and interpreting these terms they may be able to separate the instruction into smaller linguistic units without relying on her Teacher to simplify the communication.
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In summary Assessments and intervention programs can be provided by a variety of specialists but it is important to ascertain whether they have specific training and experience with reading disorders. A multidisciplinary approach to assessment and intervention may prove beneficial especially if there are emotional problems due to poor educational experiences or motor planning and motor weaknesses due to dyspraxia. There are many subtypes of reading disorders, your child may show weaknesses in more than one area. There are many computer programs available but always check that products have some scientific research to back them up. Reading is a complex skill – small frequent amounts of repetition to assist a child master a skill will cause less frustration than plugging away for hours once a week. Many actors, entertainers, scientists and inventors have had the ‘gift’ of dyslexia – MRI scans show that they use more of their brains than people without dyslexia. Focus on the positive your child could be the next Albert Einstein, Tom Cruise Leonardo Di Vinci or even Richard Branson!
References Dunoon L, 2010 Helping children with dyslexia:21 super strategies to ensure your child’s success at school first edition National Library of Australia. Jones, Castles, Kohnen, 2011 “Subtypes of developmental reading disorders: recent devleopments and directions for treatment: ACQuiring Knowledge in Speech, Language and Hearning, volume 13, Number 2, Coltheart, M, Rastel K, Perry C, Langdon R & Ziegler J (2001)DRC: A dual route cascaded model of visual word recogition and reading aloud. Psychological Review, 108, 204-256 Reid G and Green S (2007), 100 Ideas to support pupils with dyslexia. Continum International Publishing Group, New York, New York. Squires, G & McKeown S (2003) Supporting Children with Dyslexia Questions Publishing Chatswood Greenberg J & Weitzman E (2005) Learning Language and Loving It Hanen Early Language Program