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How will my child's speech and language difficulties impact on their literacy development?

February 2, 2017

Children that have speech sound deficits or delayed language skills are often at risk for later reading and spelling difficulties.


Research tells us that early language deficits have a strong link to later difficulty in reading. Many of the skills that we need for reading have their foundations in oral language. If your child has a good oral language foundation they will have a good sense of words and their meaning as well as good ability to understand the sound structure of our language. 


Children who have speech deficits have weak or 'fuzzy' representations and understanding of the sounds that make up our language. Errors in articulation and phonology are also likely to impact a child's phonological awareness skills. These skills are the building blocks we need for learning literacy. It is the ability to recognize and manipulate sounds and syllables in words. Phonological Awareness includes recognising words are made up of syllables, being able to segment words into sounds and blend sounds to make words.


If a child says a word incorrectly they may have difficulty spelling the individual sounds in that word with accuracy. If they say a sound incorrectly as they 'sound out' in reading, they may not recognise that word as a familiar word. Children with speech sound deficits may also develop word retrieval problems as they have an incorrect or 'fuzzy' representation of that word in their memory. 


Children with language delays may have limited vocabulary or difficulties sequencing the correct structures for language. This can lead to delays and difficulties with understanding what they are reading or answering comprehension questions. Knowing word meanings and understanding accurate sentence structures helps a child to read fluently, smoothly, and accurately without having to work so hard.


So what can be done?


Because language and literacy are so closely interrelated, one way to aid your child's reading, spelling and writing development is to provide language-rich environments. Create lots of opportunities for your child to use language and interact with adults and other children. Try new experiences that will help your child develop their language for a wide variety of topics. 


One of the most important things you can do is to read to your child daily. This is important for their language development, early phonological awareness, print knowledge and helps foster a loving bond with the parent.


Children that have speech or language difficulties may need explicit instruction from a Speech Pathologist. The Speech Pathologist will target specific areas of deficits as well as provide the child and their parent with strategies to develop their skills outside of sessions.


Contact us at Leap Therapy if you would like to chat further about how our Therapists may be able to help your child achieve greater literacy success!



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