Association of Speech Therapists in Private Practice
Speech Therapy
 

Dyslexia

Some children have great difficulty acquiring reading skills. The word 'dyslexia' is often used to describe this problem but it is not a condition that everyone agrees about. However, research does show up a specific difficulty many poor readers share: an inability to develop phonological awareness (phoneme awareness). This means they find it hard to split words into speech sounds (phonemes), and to blend individual sounds into words. Poor readers often have a history of problems with acquiring clear speech early on and research shows that it is important to try and help children overcome early speech difficulties before school entry if possible. Speech therapists have a thorough knowledge of phonetics and of children's development of speech and language, and some therapists who work with young children develop an interest in reading skills. Therapists do meet children who are described as having a central auditory processing disorder (CAPD). These children may have several areas of difficulty e.g. problems focusing in a noisy situation and poor short-term memory, amongst other features. Some children will have more than one problem: so Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, and language disorders may show up together. There are, however, many high achievers who have had dyslexic difficulties.

Some characteristics of dyslexia:

  • Failing to make progress with reading compared with the peer group.
  • Not learning the 'code' of how letters stand for speech sounds.
  • Not being able to break words into sounds.
  • Not being able to combine sounds into words.
  • Failing to make sense of written text because of:
    • confusing similar-looking words
    • failing to have regard for punctuation
    • omitting some words so the text becomes meaningless
    • poor memory for what has been read
    • panic because the task is so stressful
    • lack of motivation to read and consequent reduced experience compared with others.

A speech and language therapist often liaises with other professionals when working with a child with dyslexia. These may include an audiologist who will check the child has no physical hearing impairment, an optician or optometrist who will check for any problems with vision, an educational psychologist who looks at how well the child copes with different cognitive tasks and, of course, teachers.

The following may form part of therapy input for children with dyslexia:

  • Training to help the child distinguish between speech sounds.
  • Articulation therapy to correct any speech sounds the child is having difficulty with.
  • Help with awareness for the phonemes (or speech sounds) in words.
  • Extra input on general language skills - poor talkers need to learn to understand and use spoken language well as a grounding for written language. (For children with marked speech and language difficulties, speech therapy may begin at nursery age - well before reading is attempted - and continue into the school years if necessary. The therapist may then be involved with early reading acquisition.)

Some points you may wish to discuss with any therapist you contact:

  • The therapist's specialist credentials in the area of dyslexia (e.g. a qualification gained through BDA: the British Dyslexia Association).
  • If you are already involved in a programme to back up schoolwork (e.g. Phono-Graphix, Toe by Toe, Alpha to Omega, THRASS, Nessy), you may wish to talk to the therapist about that.
  • How much experience the therapist has with dyslexia.
  • Where the therapist sees children for assessment/therapy.
  • How much the therapist charges for assessment and/or regular therapy.

Click here to search for Speech Therapists in your area with Dyslexia as a specialty.