How a Cleveland Speech Therapist Can Help Your Child With Dyslexia
An estimated 20 percent of Americans are affected by dyslexia, which represents 80-90 percent of all learning disabilities, according to The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity. It’s a wonder that we’ve only just begun to make the research progress we have over the last three decades. There is still much we are learning about it, but what we can say unequivocally is that working with a Cleveland speech therapist can help children with dyslexia overcome their learning deficits.
What is Dyslexia, Exactly?
The most common of all neuro-cognitive disorders, dyslexia is an unexpected learning difficulty in reading for a person with the intelligence to be a much better reader. It’s mostly attributed to trouble with phonological processing (appreciating the individual sounds of spoken language), which in turn affects one’s ability to speak, write and spell. It’s a life-long condition that occurs in different degrees of severity. The exact root cause isn’t known, but there is believed to be a strong genetic component.
As speech-language pathologists (or SLPs for short), we have a great deal of knowledge and education when it comes to identifying and treating phonological issues. We play a key role in helping these kids to read – even if the trouble is only with reading and not speech (as is sometimes the case with dyslexia). Speech therapy can help a child vastly improve their phonological skills so they can better grasp how sounds blend together – which is ultimately going to help them in their reading and writing efforts, directly impacting academic success.
It should be noted that while this condition has never been about lack of trying or intelligence, many kids with dyslexia do also have some type of language learning disorder. This can be addressed by a Cleveland speech therapist as well. In fact, we play a key role in reading intervention – even if the trouble is only with reading and not speech.
Types of Speech Therapy for Kids With Dyslexia
Your Cleveland speech therapist will begin with testing to ascertain whether your child needs therapy. Skills we’re looking at include:
- Phonological awareness (How does the child do with things like blending, rhyming, segmenting, etc.?)
- Speech sound errors (is the child using any phonological processes in his/her speech?)
- Language skills (How strong are the child’s expressive/receptive language skills?)
This will give us an idea of whether therapy is needed, and if so, what kind.
A child with speech sound errors will have trouble groups of sounds, and s/he may be hard to understand. Long sounds might be replaced with shorter sounds or the beginnings or endings of words might be deleted. It’s typical for kids to do some of this when they are young, but they usually grow out of it between 3 and 5. If you’re still seeing these issues beyond these ages, your child may have a phonological disorder, which could relate to dyslexia. We treat this by helping the child learn the difference between correct vs. incorrect productions.
Next are phonological awareness skills. These are the pre-reading skills necessary to learn how to read and spell words. They are what allow us to manipulate sounds or put them together to make words or to take words apart so we understand the sounds that comprise that word. This includes things like rhyming, segmenting (figuring out the syllables), blending syllables and sounds, identifying words with the same beginning and ending sounds, identifying sounds (consonant-vowel, vowel-consonant, consonant-vowel-consonant, etc.), letter correspondences (“What sound does the letter “d” make? What letter makes the “duh” sound?), etc. Dyslexia is a problem that is often originates with these pre-reading skills. A child who struggles with these is going to have a hard time decoding and spelling words. The approach your Cleveland speech therapist will take depends on the exact deficits. For example, for practice segmenting syllables, we may make a fun game out of clapping or jumping or stomping out the syllables to a word – and follow-up with lots of repetition, breaking words apart and counting the syllables.
Finally, when children come to us with reading difficulties, chances are they are also scoring low on expressive and receptive language skills assessments. That could mean there’s more going on than dyslexia (i.e., comprehension issues, etc.), but we can work on these along with phonological awareness to give kids the best chance of succeeding.
Therapy & Wellness Connection – your connection to a life without limitations – provides speech therapy to children in Akron, Cleveland, Brecksville-Broadview Heights and surrounding communities. We also offer summer camp, day programs, education services, vocational counseling and more. Call us at (330) 748-4807 or send us an email.
Five Ways Speech-Language Pathologists Can Positively Impact Children With Dyslexia