Saturday, 3 September 2011

How can a speech therapist help literacy?

A post by the excellent Talking Matters team from Australia.
This week is “Speech Pathology Week” and Speech Pathology Australia have chosen the theme “Literacy for life”. This was chosen because literacy is a form of communication, there is a strong link between speech and language skills and the development of literacy and because speech pathologists have much to offer in helping develop literacy skills.  
Speech therapists/pathologists, teachers and parents can work together to develop literacy skills though the lifespan. At Talking Matters we work mainly with children, and the literacy skills developed in childhood have an impact right through the rest of peoples lives. Here are some ways speech pathologists support communication and literacy in children.    
Babies – It is never too young for children to experience books.  Babies enjoy bright colourful books with familiar pictures and things they can touch. Early speech and language skills are important for later literacy development. Babies are learning to listen to voices and understand familiar words.  They love rhymes and songs. They are developing babbling and copying adult sounds and intonation patterns.  A speech pathologist can advise parents how to best develop their babies early language skills. Speech Pathologists can also help with any feeding problems which can impact on speech development.             
• Toddlers – Toddlers continue to love books and begin to listen to the words, not just look at the pictures. They enjoy stories with simple storylines and lots of action.  They also enjoy picture books about favourite topics which help develop vocabulary. They may begin to recognise familiar signs and symbols. Their speech is developing with lots of single words and they are beginning to combine words together. A speech pathologist can help if a child is not using many words, combining words together or is not clear in their production of familiar words.
 Pre-schoolers - Children are now beginning to develop pre-literacy skills. They understand how books work, with a beginning and ending and words that tell about the pictures.  They are beginning to learn about letters and sounds and may recognise their name and the first letter in their name. They are speaking in longer sentences, most of their speech is clear and they can hold a simple conversation. Speech pathologists can help with concerns about speech and language skills. Support to develop these skills now helps with preventing reading and writing difficulties later.       
• School-aged children – At school children are developing formal literacy skills. The ability to understand and use language impacts on the ability to read and write, and speech pathologists can support parents and teachers in developing these skills in children. Children are also learning about the relationships between letters and sounds, and how sound patterns form words. Children who have difficulty hearing sounds in words,  sounding out and blending words, reading, writing and comprehending what they read can all benefit from support from a speech pathologist. As children progress with literacy, the oral and written language used in school increases in complexity.  Speech pathologists continue to help children develop these skills and can also provide strategies and supports for children with literacy difficulties.               
At Talking Matters we can provide assessment and support to develop speech, language and literacy skills.  We also have a large amount of information on our website to support parents and teachers in develop language and literacy skills.
Talking Matters TeamTalking Matters helps with literacy

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