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How to teach a child to read with minimal language?

(8 Posts)
Notgivingin789 Thu 17-Sep-15 11:04:04

Hi all,

I have a DS, whose 5, and is repeating his reception year at a specialist school and will be going into year two next year.

DS have very minimal language, he can say about 40 single words, and he has a speech/sound mouth disorder called Oral Motor dyspraxia, which basically means the signal between his brain and his mouth are not connecting simpler words, he just finds it very very difficult to imitate words.

His specialist school is brilliant and he is getting the help he needs, though I don't think they focus much on the academic side....

But anyway, I'm finding it difficult to effectively combine teaching him with the whole communication/speech as well as teaching him the academic stuff.

I have now been focusing on actually teaching him to read, which I was doing the past year. He is (understandably) on key stage one as he finds it very hard to say the words in the more complicated books, though he can understand the words in the more complicated book stages (if that makes sense).

Many of my friends have suggested that I should take a step back and focus on the speech/communication and understanding of language first, though I'm worried that if I don't teach the academic side of things, he may fall very very behind. He is actually bright, he has no learning difficulties, but the language issue is holding him back.

What do you all think and how can I help DS with his reading?

Notgivingin789 Thu 17-Sep-15 11:04:49

Ahh! sorry I meant.....* How to teach a child with minimal language to read..*

BertieBotts Thu 17-Sep-15 11:15:23

I wonder if instead of trying to teach reading out loud, you could do some matching to pictures with increasingly complex words?

And then concentrate also on learning to write, or some other method of creating words - perhaps typing on a keyboard, or create/buy a set of magnets or tiles with phonic groups on them which he can arrange to make words. I used to play a game with DS when he was learning to read where I made some tiles out of card and wrote words on them. I started with very simple words made of the phonemes he knew best, which were single letters - dog, cat, and, up, on, hat, bin, dad, etc, and then some high frequency words: I, the, her, his, he, we, etc. When he learned a new phoneme or group of phonemes, I added more words with these parts in. Then he would arrange the words to make funny sentences. He did read them out loud, but you wouldn't need a child to, if the sentence makes sense when he arranges it together, then you know he's understanding it.

Perhaps I have understood wrong, but he doesn't have issues with understanding speech, he just has a problem producing it? Is that right? So it is difficult for you to assess his reading level, but if you combined it with writing or typing or putting together words, then you could get that understanding better. So you get him to read a sentence and then match it to one of two pictures which are subtly different, or you get him to read something, ask a question about what he's read and get him to write down the answer rather than saying it out loud, or you send very short notes and letters to each other, or get him to read a description and then draw you a picture or make something out of plastacine, or have a game where he has to read a card and follow the instructions (e.g. hop on one leg four times, run three times around the room) - you could make a little board game for this. I would say that makes more sense than trying to concentrate on speech which is difficult for him. See if you can assess his understanding of what he has read in other ways.

Notgivingin789 Thu 17-Sep-15 11:27:23

Thanks for replying Bertie! Excellent suggestions! But he has issues with understanding too. His understanding is of a three year old. Which makes it a tad more difficult.

ouryve Thu 17-Sep-15 11:56:00

How is he communicating at school.

DS2 has ASD and oral motor difficulties with a much more significant delay than your DS (he's 9, functioning at pre-school level in most areas), so our timescales have been slower. He also appears to have some intellectual disability, though it's hard to assess because of his lack of speech and language - a bit of a chicken and egg situation.

He started using PECs when he was 7 (would have nothing to do with it before then) and almost immediately, the word was added to the picture. He had virtually no spoken language at this point, but was recognising some sight words.

After a few months, he developed an obsession with alphablocks. This was brilliant and he seemed to be taking things in. After watching his big brother make words with wooden letters, he realised he could do the same. He probably didn't sleep properly for days as he assimilated this new knowledge.

After a few months, his enthusiasm cooled off a little, but he got back into it about a year later and started trying to say the words, as well as spell them.

He reached a point not long after when his 1:1 was able to drop the pictures from his communication cards.

At no point has he been particularly interested in story books, though. In his case, words that matter to him, plus a fun way of learning the mechanics of reading and spelling have been key in getting him started.

He enjoys typing, too, though hasn't got the hang of the spacebar, yet. He has reached a point where he can look up his favourite TV programs on youtube and google, though, which is very liberating for him

BertieBotts Thu 17-Sep-15 12:22:19

Ah right, sorry! I will bow out and leave it to others then smile

blaeberry Thu 17-Sep-15 22:24:07

I agree with Ouryve that his method of communicating is probably key to learning to read. How does he communicate in school? I also think you need to talk to school and SALT about how they are teaching reading. Sometimes a different approach can be helpful but sometimes it just adds to the confusion. My ds does seem to be moving very slowly with his reading at school (at a language unit, he has dyspraxia which may or may not be the cause of his speech problems). I think this is partly because they are also working on building his language. He has come in a lot in the last year so we are now at the stage of trying to structure a sentence. At home, I read to him a lot and I have started getting him to read simple phonic books (songbird). However he gets very tired after a day at school so mostly needs to relax in the evenings.

annandale Thu 17-Sep-15 22:34:51

I would ask the teacher and SALT's advice, though I woudn't necessarily follow it like gospel. If he's understanding spoken language at a 3-year-old level, it seems to me that you need to work +++ on that side before he's going to be able to read. Therefore I would read to him, ideally lots of repetitive, rhyming books, read at his pace. This is what fairy stories and tales are for and he's not too old for them. There's always the risk that he will start to read using whole word recognition while still having huge issues with processing sounds/phonics, but I think it would be worth the risk to focus on him processing sounds and understanding words he hears.

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