Early literacy achievement of children with a history of speech problems

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Background: There are conflicting reports in the research literature of the literacy outcome of children with speech disorder. The link between phonological awareness and literacy in typically developing and literacy delayed children is well established, but there is less research specifically into children with an isolated speech disorder (i.e. with age-appropriate language skills). There is a clinical need for clarification on their likely outcome as a group and for a means of predicting those individuals who might need support in literacy development. Aims: To assess literacy and phonological awareness skills at age 6;6-7;6 years in children with a history of speech disorder, and to identify factors in their early profile that were predictive of later achievement. Methods & Procedures: Thirty-five children who had participated in an earlier therapy research study agreed to further assessment of their speech, language and literacy abilities. The children had originally been recruited between the ages of 3;6 and 5;0 years as having a moderate-to-severe speech disorder, and there were measures at that time of their non-verbal, language, phonological output and phonological awareness abilities. Follow-up assessments of phonological awareness, speech and early literacy were undertaken. Outcomes & Results: As a group, the children had made good progress in speech and showed phonological awareness and literacy development at an age-appropriate level. However, a small number of children had phonological awareness and literacy delay. Phonological awareness at 3;6-5;0 years was the best predictor of literacy achievement. Conclusions: Speech and language therapists can be confident about the early literacy achievement of most children with isolated speech disorder, but should undertake assessment of phonological awareness to identify those children whose phonological awareness skills after speech intervention continue to be low.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)453-468
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Language and Communication Disorders
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2004