Would your Child Benefit from Therapy?
Dallas Reading and Language Services specializes in serving school-aged and preschool children. Our therapists use a multi-modal approach targeted to the student’s strengths and learning style. This actively engages the child’s strengths, while addressing weaker areas.
How is Speech-Language Pathology Related to Reading?
Reading is essentially language. We can think of this as part of a hierarchy. At the base we have our experiences and knowledge which children use to build their basic vocabulary and language skills.
As they become more skilled and receive formal instruction, they are able to place the abstract sounds of our language and the letters that represent them together to create meaning, or written words. Language is a system of symbols, and reading is another symbol system imposed on top of our language.
If there is a weakness anywhere in this hierarchy, difficulty with higher level skills, such as reading and writing, will result. This is why children who have speech or language difficulties as preschoolers are at a higher risk of having learning problems in school, particularly when learning to read.
The American Speech-Hearing Language Association, the national governing organization for speech-language pathologists and audiologists, encourages speech therapists to use literacy-rich activities within speech-language therapy.
ASHA also recognizes the importance of reading and writing as language skills, and places them within the scope of practice for a speech-language therapist to address with clients.
Please visit our other pages to learn about how we can help your child. For speech-language issues, we encourage you to visit our clinic’s main site, www.SpeechTherapyDallas.com. For very young children, we recommend our site, www.PreLiteracy.com.
Our Resources page is also a good place to start to find information about other programs and services in Texas. Our Glossary is filled with terms about reading, language and speech.
As you learn more about how reading works and how speech-language pathologists are trained in this area, this list of terms will be helpful.
Dallas Reading and Language Services provides traditional speech-language pathology services to children and adolescents from toddlers to high-school age.
About Our Speech-Language Therapy
If therapy is recommended for your child after the initial evaluation, our therapist will create an individualized plan with goals to discuss with you, the parent or guardian, and the child if he or she is old enough to understand. Most of our clients attend therapy twice weekly. Some may attend three times and others who are closer to meeting their goals may only attend once weekly.
Different reading programs are implemented along with the child’s specific goals to address his or her areas of need. At Dallas Reading and Language Services, we usually recommend the reading programs for children who are in grades kindergarten through 8th grade and showing need for this type of intervention.
Parents are welcome to observe sessions as they wish and are able to do so. Your child may have materials for home practice with verbal and written instructions for caregivers.
The child’s family and pediatrician (or other primary care physician) will receive monthly progress reports with information on specific short and long term goals. Each client will be formally re-evaluated at least every six months or at the time of discharge from therapy services.
Therapy for preschool age children is done within a context of literacy through using speech cues with letters, using story cards and other stories, sequencing common activities, using story boxes, and using words in addition to targeted pictures and objects.
For our younger clients, we use a highly individualized approach which targets each child’s communication weaknesses while capitalizing on the child’s strengths. Our therapy with preschool children is structured to be literacy rich. Our speech-language pathologists believe this is important.
Children who have language difficulties in preschool are at higher risk for learning problems, and these should be monitored and addressed early.
Family members are allowed to observe therapy in the room with their child as long as their presence does not affect the child’s participation. Parents receive regular updates on their child’s therapy, either through written notes or verbally. This is in addition to monthly progress reports and bi-annual evaluations.
For School Age Children
We address the overall communication and language skills of older children in a holistic manner. School-aged children in a one-one therapy setting often make huge gains in speech-therapy. Many of these children respond well to a multi-sensory program for improving speech. This has been particularly true for children that have apraxia. We use whatever modality the child naturally learns best with to improve speech skills.
Understanding and using language is so important to many facets of a child’s life. If a child is missing pieces when listening to directions or a story, they are trying to fit together what they do have to make sense of what is happening around them. We help to change how a child processes language to make it more efficient and allow the child to grasp the whole picture.
Much of language therapy is also aimed at improving a child’s understanding of how concepts are related, how parts relate to a whole, how words are put together to expand sentences, and how to unlock the process of learning by inferencing.
At Dallas Reading and Language Services, reading programs are offered to children who are behind their age or grade level. We use three main programs to address reading decoding and comprehension skills, all of which aim at building underlying areas of weakness and changing the way a child approaches the task of reading. This is different from traditional reading tutoring at a tutor center where the skill areas are taught with additional exposure to the material and instruction. Many of the reading programs that we use are also used by trained tutors for children that have been diagnosed with dyslexia.
Children using these programs not only increase sound awareness, but also their awareness of what sounds feel and look like. Clients are better able to discriminate and sequence sounds, and read and spell words. A major advantage to these programs is that clients learn to self-correct their errors through kinesthetic or sensory feedback. Similar strategies that are used to improve language comprehension skills are applied to increasing reading comprehension.
We know that there are many methods for reading instruction. Despite inconsistency in how reading has been taught in recent years, many children did learn the basic skills necessary to be good readers. With children that have typical intelligence and multiple learning opportunities, the problem with reading often has to do with specific weaknesses.
Many children who have reading difficulties have decreased phonological awareness skills. This is the ability to hear and manipulate sounds. As children are learning to read, most classrooms will have some phonological awareness activities to enhance their learning. These could be finding items that begin with a certain sound, rhyming games, clapping syllables in words, and deleting sounds from words.
Children with poor sound awareness often also show difficulty with language processing overall, from paragraphs to sentences, words to individual sounds. Speech-language therapy can assist these children with increasing their efficiency and accuracy when it comes to understanding what they hear.
Phonological awareness has been researched and studied by professionals. A major finding is that phonological awareness is a key skill that is necessary for learning to decode and read efficiently. This weakness in the ability to hear sounds may be further compounded by decreased awareness of how we produce sounds. In short, these children do not hear, perceive, and sometimes produce sounds the same way as others do. The solution is to provide a different, multi-sensory method of teaching.
At Dallas Reading and Language Services, programs for speech, reading and/or language are incorporated as needed on an individual basis. The therapist targets these goals within many of the same activities, thus the child will work towards more than one individualized goal within an activity.
Communication and Language are powerful. Children with speech and language delays or disorders face an uphill climb due to the challenges these present. Speech-Language therapy and reading services have changed the lives of our clients in lasting ways. Whether calming a toddler’s tantrums as he begins to express his wants, or watching a school-age child flourish in their home and school life for the first time, we are reminded of the power that communication holds.
The therapy and reading programs provided at Dallas Reading and Language Services are unique in that goals are addressed within the context of literacy. This is important for children aged preschool through adolescents as they expand into another functional context with their burgeoning speech and language skills.