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Speech delay and learning to read?

(23 Posts)
thatsenough Thu 08-Sep-11 23:38:42

Sorry if this is the wrong board, but I have a few questions about DS2.

He started reception class today (4.4) and was diagnosed (finally) with mild speech delay earlier this year. He attends a speech therapy group on a Friday afternoon, but that is currently the only support available other than what we do at home. (When I say mild speech delay, that is what the speech therapists have diagnosed, but he can be quite difficult to understand if you don't know him well).

So, to get to the point - how can we help him to read? He struggles with several phonic sounds and I am concerned that he is going to be left behind at the start. At the moment he had shown absolutely no interest in learning to read and only recognises the letters in his own name. I know you shouldn't compare, but he seems to know so much less than DS1 at the same age.

Has anyone been in the same situation? How do we help? Or should we just put our faith in the class teacher who I think is wonderful?

mymumdom Thu 08-Sep-11 23:47:06

I'll be watching this thread with interest. My son has a severe speech delay and starts school next year. Learning to read is one of the things that worries me the most about him starting school as my girls all took to it quickly.

NotJustKangaskhan Fri 09-Sep-11 00:07:27

My son had speech and language delays and I've noticed it has taken him longer to get into and really 'click' when it comes to reading. Whether or not it's just him or his language issues is not certain, obviously.

I would ask his teacher if there is anything else you can be doing at home and your concerns on the issue, to avoid clashing and to make sure you're both on the same page. There are the little things that you're most likely doing - reading aloud to him from books, signs, and other reading material and pointing out the use of letters elsewhere.

There are also more detailed programmes you can do at home, depending on what he's doing in school, how he learns, and how much help you think he needs. With my eldest, it was helpful to learn to write the letters first - having each sound as an action focused it in his mind. Then there are programmes like Phonic Pathways -- which has a great train game inside for helping with phonic sounds and blending if you want something more interesting -- that really focuses on learning sounds and blends which you may find useful. Also the piper books BRI-ARI programme has been a brilliant 'clicking' moment for my eldest as it gave him far more confidence to have a book he could fully read from the early stages (also phonics and repetition based, as are most programmes these days, but uses simple books to keep interest over worksheets and games). The latter may be more useful later on if his reading falls behind and he needs a confidence boost. Hopefully, things will go smoothly for him!

cat64 Fri 09-Sep-11 00:28:32

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cat64 Fri 09-Sep-11 00:28:55

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cat64 Fri 09-Sep-11 00:29:15

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DeWe Fri 09-Sep-11 08:37:24

My brother had speech delay. He talked in sort of grunts. Family could understand some of what he said, but not outsiders. He was reading and writing long before he was 4 because he found he could communicate through it. If you couldn't understand what he said then he'd write it down phonetically.
"Opn garij dor stuk" I remember him writng at about 4. Coukdn't understand what he was saying with "O ar or uk" but wrote it down and mum went to find the garage door was stuck.
Mum said she couldn't really tell he was reading for ages because he couldn't read out loud. He learnt new words to read before he could say them.

schobe Fri 09-Sep-11 08:45:53

Have heard excellent things about headsprout

DaveGrohlsgirl Fri 09-Sep-11 08:56:52

With DD one of the many things I did was find a phonetic alphabet mural type poster which I put on the wall of her bedroom.
She could see the letters and there was a picture of the sounds that they make IYKWIM.
Discuss with teacher what type of phonics they are doing at school.
Will return after school run with more ideas, DD had a speech delay and was only understood by me on starting school.

maizieD Fri 09-Sep-11 10:40:55

I think that DeWe's story is an excellent illustration of the fact that it is not speech which is crucial for reading, but understanding of spoken language.

booble Fri 09-Sep-11 11:08:51

My son was also speech delayed. There were so many sounds that he just couldn't pronounce. But that didn't mean that he couldn't hear them. I first taught him the phonics. Eg I'd say to him point to the sound that banana begins with etc. Then I taught him how to blend. He could read and write better than he could talk. I'm certain that learning to read helped his speech. By seeing the sounds in the words it prompted him to say them and not miss them out. He was 4 years old before others outside of our immediate family could understand him but he had a reading age of above 9.

I would really encourage your son to start blending short words at home. They may not sound right but as long as he knows what he is trying to say he will get better at it. After all he will be hearing you say it and visually see the sounds in the word. Also if it doesn't bother him, you should say it back to him how he says it so he can hear that he is saying it wrong and try to self correct.

BlueberryPancake Fri 09-Sep-11 13:39:22

If a child has a problem with prononcing sounds (both consonates and vowels) they might have problems with spelling but I am not sure if they will have problems with reading. I have found that my DS who has a severe speech disorder has improved in his pronounciation when he starting to learn phonics. He has an older brother who was in reception last year and so we were doing lots of phonics at home, and sounding out words. I'd tell a story and replace simple words with their phonics equivalent. If it was a story about a cat I would say C-A-T (in phonics); C-A-R; D-O-G; etc. And DS2 who has the speech disorder started to understand how some words are pronounced. I am convinced that his speech improved when I would break up words. But he has a specific issue (developmental verbal dyspraxia).

He also has a delay in understanding stories and is much better at listening to non-fictional stories. He told me recently that 'my head can't talk in stories'...

He can now read single words, with the simple phonic sounds (not ch or sh yet). But he doesn't want to read books as he is not interested in them. Books about cars or trains or submarines are much too complicated for him to read!!! But he can read from flash cards. Also, he can sound most long words but can't put the sounds together yet.

Anyway what I'm trying to say is that reading itself and learning to read might not be more difficult, it might just have to be slightly different or adapted to your child. What I would say though is to really try to stick to the method that is used at the school, ie phonics. There are loads of resources online and in book shops using the method. We have a CD with the phonic sounds that the children love to listen to. Also, in class, they use a gesture for each sound which is brilliant for children with speech delay.

jeee Fri 09-Sep-11 13:43:45

My three daughter have all had severe speech delays, but this didn't translate to a delay in reading. Certainly DD1 read fluently by the end of year R, and DD2 had a level 3 for reading in her year 2 SATs (DD3 is just starting reception).

strictlovingmum Fri 09-Sep-11 21:28:13

Same as jeee DD was diagnosed at the start of YR at age 4.4, having a mild speech delay, it did not affect her reading, and we were advised to practice reading with her as per normal, while SALT worked with her once a week, practising difficult sounds.
R, L, SH.
It took two terms and her speech is unrecognisable now, near perfect and she doesn't need anymore therapy.
Good SALT will send practicing sheets with special words including sounds which needs to be practiced 5 minutes daily, also we corrected DD's sh sound using straw, she would say sound sh trough straw.
I was very anxious last year about those issues, but really now in hindsight I shouldn't have been, mild speech delay easily rectifiable if recognised in time, and by the sound of it you are on the right track.
Many things can cause speech delay, in DD case was a vast vocabulary(at the age 4.4 her vocabulary was of a girl whose 7), and as SALT explained, DD's mouth apparatus just couldn't cope and pronounce all of those sounds properly, it didn't help that DD also talks fast, her reading was never affected, in fact she is a top reader in her class.smile good luck
P.S read with him as much as you can, start blending simple words, and breaking long ones in half, once his speech is improved, his reading will be great.

thatsenough Sat 10-Sep-11 08:26:40

Thank you so much for all your replies and suggestions, some we already do and some we will be starting to do!

I should hopefully get to talk to the reception class teacher next week and pass on the info from the speech therapist. I'm feeling more confident that reading won't be as much of a struggle as thought - He is one of the younger children in his class and my is whirling with lots of things at the moment.

However, he has settled well in to reception class this week and has a lovely group of friends so fingers crossed. I'm also pleased that one of the teaching assistants from the nursery who knows DS well has now moved to reception - She seems to understand him well thankfully.

Sorry for not replying yesterday, but there was not a minute to spare!

flack Sat 10-Sep-11 11:56:09

DS2 was diagnosed with a mild speech delay about the same age, he didn't even start proper SALT until near the end of his reception yr.

But he did fine with reading, they only had praise to say about his literacy skills. Don't ask me how, since he had so many sounds wrong for most the year. I do think that all the usual stuff you do to help their speech improve is the same things that will help literacy.

DD was also mildly speech delayed (never diagnosed or treated), but she improved quickly & spontaneously as soon as they did phonics work in reception.

colditz Sat 10-Sep-11 11:59:11

the reading process helped Ds1 with his speech as for the first time he could see that /th/ and /f/ are different, ditto /l/ and /y/

PontyMython Sat 10-Sep-11 12:07:16

DD (started school yesterday <wibble>) has trouble with some sounds - she's within 'normal' range now but definitely the lower end IYSWIM - can't say L, ch sounds like t etc. Added to the fact she's a summer baby I am a bit concerned, but the school seem very nurturing and not pushy.

Reading is more about hearing, so we do lots of games like I spy, with letter sounds instead of letter names. She (like a lot of young children) is a very physical learner, so we also got some toys like letter magnets, as that helps embed the learning IME.

PontyMython Sat 10-Sep-11 12:08:49

(sorry that sounds like I'm pushing her to read already, am definitely not doing that, she just likes messing around with letters as part of normal play)

adelaofblois Sat 10-Sep-11 17:17:34

I am not a SaLt, and DS1 has a disorder rather than a delay, but discussions with SaLTs and SENCOs You should also note there is a great deal of misunderstanding out there and it may be up to you to address it. Several SENCOs I talked to in choosing a preference for schools insisted they would never teach a child to read a sound they could not make. That is not best practice as a blanket rule, although may be sensible for some children. I would suggest the following initial checklist:

1. Can the child distinguish sounds? Saying /hrag/ for cat is not in itself a barrier to reading, IF the child can distinguish /c/ and /t/ sounds. But it is a bad idea to ask a child who cannot distinguish sounds to read like this as it forms inaccurate associative patterns between graphemes and sounds (i.e. if the child believes 'c' makes a /hr/ sound.

2. There is some problem because part of the way we learn association is through the 'feel' of words as well as the 'sound' (which is why many early readers read aloud). Teaching which is solely based (or assessed) on 'see grapheme', 'make word/sound' can help produce poor patterns. Most children cope, however, and little teaching is actually like this.

3. Special attention needs playing to blending. Clearly the normal process-make individual sounds, combine, get word, is harder for children with speech problems-and many can make the sounds but not combine for words. Reverse blending-where the child names sounds, gets them repeated back, then forms the word can help here.

4. Much reception work is not just read grapheme say word, but relies on many other ways of establishing patterns-choose objects with this sound, flashcard linked to object. If your child is struggling here, it is worth returning to 1 and 3 to see if extra attention needs paying.

5. DS1 (just starting Reception) seems to prefer to skip the sounding stage-he looks at words, thinks (sometimes lips mumble) then he produces the whole word. This has sometimes produced mistakes that look as if he's adopted 'whole word' learning even though NEVER taught it, but has not markedly damaged his ability to read (indeed he now gets Horrid Henry down on his own and reads it to his brother)

Personal experience with DS1 and from talking to teachers is that speech disorder and delay is not nearly so much as a correlate as experience of books, words and a literary rich environment, and that Phonics works helps sound discrimination and production. But if your DC is markedly behind in reading as against other cognitive skills and has a speech delay, you should investigate (and push) to see that the school is adopting appropriate strategies and is communicating effectively with SaLTS.

adelaofblois Sat 10-Sep-11 17:18:45

Sorry, very tired, that is not reverse belnding (which I was planning a lesson in at the same time). But the strategy is effective.

BlueberryPancake Sat 10-Sep-11 22:37:36

Adela, what is your son's disorder? DS has verbal dyspraxia and he finds it really easy to identify and sound out individual letters or groups of letters (ee and oo for example). He does hear and make the difference between the sounds and he finds it much easier to pronounce the sounds individually than blended in a word. For example, he could pronounce most phonems before he could actually say any words, as his problem is mostly with muscle control and processing the sound production. He takes a long time to think before he speaks and he also takes a long time before saying a word he has read. I will speak to speech therapist about this as you recommend to see that the school adapts (more visual tools maybe) to support his learning. He is also starting reception - on Monday, I am very anxious about it!!!

adelaofblois Sun 11-Sep-11 15:03:26

His diagnosis beyond disordered rather than delayed has always been unclear, but it has 'symptoms consistent with verbal dyspraxia'. Your description of your DS could be him.

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