Reading is one of the most important skills for children to learn. It’s correlated with academic success, self-esteem, concentration, vocabulary, memory, and critical thinking skills.
It’s never too early to start exposing children to literacy. According to the American Pediatrics Association, even reading to infants has been shown to improve their later academic success.
It’s also important to seek the right services for your child from a young age if you are concerned that he or she may be struggling with reading. Studies show that it is more difficult for children to catch up later if they start off with reading difficulties and don’t receive the proper interventions.
One service that can help is Speech Therapy.
Speech and language impairments in children are linked to reading difficulties. So many Speech Therapists (also known as Speech-Language Pathologists) are trained to be able to assess and provide treatment for children with literacy disorders.
Let’s talk more about some ways that Speech Therapy can help children with reading skills.
Improving Phonological Awareness Skills
A critical early skill children must develop for learning to read is phonological awareness.
If your child is already receiving Speech Therapy, it’s important to keep an eye on their phonological awareness skills. Children with speech sound disorders have been found to have more trouble with phonological awareness tasks.
If your child is Pre-Kindergarten age (around 4 to 5 years old), and is showing difficulty with phonological awareness tasks, a Speech Therapist may be able to help.
In Speech Therapy, your child’s therapist can work with him or her on tasks like syllable awareness. Your child might be asked to clap or tap out each syllable in multisyllabic words, like butterfly.
Another sound awareness activity might involve the Speech Therapist saying individual sounds and asking your child to blend those sounds into a word. For example, being able to blend the sounds c-a-t into the word cat.
Even though your child may not be starting to read yet, seeking extra help to work on these pre-literacy skills through Speech Therapy can help prevent your child from falling behind later as they start to learn to read.
Assessment of Reading Skills
A Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) who specializes in literacy can complete a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation if you have concerns with your child’s reading skills.
Based on your child’s age, the therapist’s observations, and specific areas of concern reported by you or your child’s teacher, the SLP may test your child’s skills in several areas of literacy. For example, sound-letter correspondence, decoding, reading fluency (speed, accuracy), word recognition, and reading comprehension.
A literacy evaluation completed by a Speech Therapist can be helpful in determining whether a child has signs of a reading disorder. The assessment can also help the therapist make appropriate recommendations for interventions that can help improve your child’s skills in specific areas of literacy. That might include weekly Speech Therapy.
Phonics-Based Reading Programs
A Speech Therapist can help remediate your child’s reading skills by using specific approaches to improve his or her skills.
In the Orton-Gillingham approach to teaching reading, children learn letter-sound correlation through multi-sensory activities, like tracing a letter in sand.
Children also learn certain rules and patterns behind reading. Then, they build on these skills over time. The Orton-Gillingham approach is often used to remediate reading skills in children with Dyslexia.
Of course, not only is it important for kids to learn to read, but it’s also critical for them to learn to understand and remember what they read.
As children grow, reading comprehension is essential for them to continue developing academic skills by reading everything from textbooks to word problems in math. Not to mention, children can get more enjoyment out of reading when they understand what they’ve read!
Your child’s Speech Therapist will likely teach him or her strategies to facilitate comprehension, like re-reading passages or taking notes. Your child may be asked to use these strategies while reading grade-level passages and then answering questions about the information they read.
How to Start Speech Therapy
TherapyWorks offers Speech Therapy with Speech-Language Pathologists experienced in literacy and trained in specific reading treatment approaches, such as Orton-Gilingham.
We offer Speech Therapy, Occupational and Physical Therapy both in person (in Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio) and through teletherapy (nationwide). If you would like to learn more, or discuss your child’s specific needs, please don’t hesitate to reach out to TherapyWorks!