EDU Healthcare Blog
Helping Children with Communication Disorders in the Schools...September 26, 2017 10:43 AM
What kinds of speech and language disorders affect children?
Speech and language disorders can affect the way children talk, understand, analyze or process information. Speech disorders include the clarity, voice quality, and fluency of a child's spoken words. Language disorders include a child's ability to hold meaningful conversations, understand others, problem solve, read and comprehend, and express thoughts through spoken or written words.
How many children receive treatment for speech and language disorders in the schools?
The number of children with disabilities, ages 3-21, served in the public schools under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B in Fall 2003 was 6,068,802 (in the 50 states, D.C., and outlying areas). Of these children, 1,460,583 (24.1%) received services for speech or language disorders. This estimate does not include children who have speech/language problems secondary to other conditions.
How do speech, language, and hearing disorders affect learning?
Communication skills are at the heart of life's experience, particularly for children who are developing language critical to cognitive development and learning. Reading, writing, gesturing, listening, and speaking are all forms of language – a code we learn to use in order to communicate ideas.
Learning takes place through the process of communication. The ability to participate in active and interactive communication with peers and adults in the educational setting is essential for a student to succeed in school.
Why are speech and language skills so critical for literacy?
Spoken language provides the foundation for the development of reading and writing. Spoken and written language have a reciprocal relationship – each builds on the other to result in general language and literacy competence, starting early and continuing through childhood into adulthood.
What are signs that a communication disorder is affecting school performance?
Children with communication disorders frequently perform at a poor or insufficient academic level, struggle with reading, have difficulty understanding and expressing language, misunderstand social cues, avoid attending school, show poor judgement, and have difficulty with tests.
Difficulty in learning to listen, speak, read, or write can result from problems in language development. Problems can occur in the production, comprehension, and awareness of language at the sound, syllable, word, sentence, and discourse levels. Individuals with reading and writing problems also may experience difficulties in using language strategically to communicate, think, and learn.
How do speech-language pathologists work with teachers and other school personnel to insure children get the support they need?
Assessment and treatment of children's communication problems involve cooperative efforts with others such as parents, audiologists, psychologists, social workers, classroom teachers, special education teachers, guidance counselors, physicians, dentists, and nurses. Speech-language pathologists work with diagnostic and educational evaluation teams to provide comprehensive language and speech assessments for children.
Services to students with communication problems may be provided in individual or small group sessions, in classrooms or when teaming with teachers or in a consultative model with teachers and parents. Speech-language pathologists integrate students' communication goals with academic and social goals.
How can speech-language pathology services help children with speech and language disorders?
Speech-language pathology services can help children become effective communicators, problem-solvers and decision-makers. As a result of services such as memory retraining, cognitive reorganization, language enhancement, and efforts to improve abstract thinking, children can benefit from a more successful and satisfying educational experience as well as improved peer relationships. The services that speech-language pathologists provide can help children overcome their disabilities, achieve pride and self-esteem, and find meaningful roles in their lives.
How Reading and Writing With Your Child Boost More Than Just...September 26, 2017 8:17 AM
Children who read and write at home -- whether for assignments or just for fun -- are building long-term study and executive function skills, according to a paper from the University of Washington.
And while home literacy activities have already been associated with higher test scores, the new study shows these activities also provide students with tools for lifetime success.
"People who are good students tend to become good employees by being on time and putting forward their best work. All of the things that make you a good student also make you a good employee," said Nicole Alston-Abel, a Federal Way Public Schools psychologist who conducted the study while pursuing her doctorate at the UW. "If you make sure your child is academically engaged at home through third grade, kids go on autopilot -- they know how to 'do' school after that."
Alston-Abel analyzed data collected by co-author Virginia Berninger, UW emeritus professor of education, who conducted a five-year longitudinal study of academic performance in grades one through seven. As part of that study, Berninger sent home questionnaires asking parents if, and how, they helped their children with reading and writing; Alston-Abel, a former primary teacher, then compared the responses with students' academic performance.
The study published online in May in the Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation.
To collect a range of ages and school experiences, the study followed two groups of students in public elementary schools near the UW campus -- one cohort of students from first to fifth grade, the other from third to seventh grade. In all, 241 families participated over five years, completing annual questionnaires about how their child felt about reading and writing, what kinds of activities they engaged in at home, and what kind of help parents provided.
The demographics of both cohorts reflected neighborhoods around the university: About 85 percent of students were white or Asian American, and nearly three-fourths of parents had a bachelor's or advanced degree. A more diverse pool, Alston-Abel said, would be illuminating from a research perspective, but the basic message would remain the same: "The takeaway is still the importance of having a parent involved in developing the habits and models a child needs to be successful. It doesn't matter what socioeconomic status you come from."
Among the study's findings:
- Students spent significantly more time at home reading than writing.
- Without a specific assignment, children were more likely to choose reading as an activity than writing.
- Parents provided more help with writing than with reading.
- Starting at the intermediate grades (four and up), writing assignments increased, while parent help for writing declined more gradually than for reading.
- About three-fourths of the fifth- and seventh-grade students used a computer for writing assignments.
- Parents of those older students described their children as "fluent" in using a computer for writing homework for 19 percent of the fifth-graders, and 53 percent of the seventh-graders.
- Parent ratings of their student's "self-regulation," or ability to stay on task and exhibit other study skills, were associated with academic performance, especially in reading comprehension and written expression.
The authors point out that there is no direct causal link between the responses on the questionnaires and student achievement, but that some patterns do exist. For example, among students whose parents described their lack of focus or unwillingness to help set modest goals, academic achievement was generally lower than among students who stayed on task or learned to prioritize.
The study speaks to the need for a collaborative effort between parents and teachers, Alston-Abel said, especially among marginalized populations, and at a time when kindergarteners, according to Common Core State Standards, are expected to demonstrate basic reading and writing skills.
"Some kids come to kindergarten reading basic 'sight words,' and others don't know their letters. Add up the disadvantages and the demands of the curriculum, and it becomes very apparent that if you don't have a collaborative effort, for these same kids, that gap is always going to be there," Alston-Abel said.
Teachers can start by asking parents about how they support their child's learning at home -- like with the kinds of questionnaires used in the study. The responses to open-ended questions about what kinds of reading and writing a child does at home, why, and for how long each week, can then inform instruction. Meanwhile, parents who work with their children, Alston-Abel added, are introducing study skills like time management and impulse control.
The paper provides other tips for parents and teachers on how to work together to develop literacy and study skills. One way is to engage a child in writing at home through journals, a story to a family member, even an email or thank-you note. Another is to look for specific skills to help develop, such as spelling or reading comprehension, but pull back when the child appears able to accomplish more independently. And encourage any opportunity to read or write for fun.
"Academic success is an all-hands-on-deck enterprise," Alston-Abel said. "Teacher, parent and student all have a part to play. Fostering home-school partnerships that enhance and extend the experience of the learner can lead to life-long habits that foster success."
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.