Reading & writing

Reading and spelling skills are crucial for successful functioning in our modern society. Research has linked poor reading ability with a wide range of negative outcomes. Individuals who do not acquire adequate literacy skills are consequently at a significant disadvantage when it comes to reaching their potential academically, socially, emotionally and financially.

The past several decades of research have identified a strong relationship between reading / spelling ability and aspects of speech, language and auditory processing skills.

Children learning to read must learn how letters and letter patterns represent the sound structure of spoken language so that they can read and learn unfamiliar words. For example, a year 1 student may be able to read the word "pat" despite not reading it previously by understanding that the three letters in that word correspond to the sounds "puh", "ah" and "tuh", which are then joined mentally to read the word. 

Research therefore suggests that the ability to read depends heavily on an individual's ability to 'crack the code' of written language. Since English contains some words that are spelled with unusual letter patterns that cannot be used to 'sound out' (an example is the word "yacht"), these words must be remembered by heart. In addition, children must develop adequate oral language skills to enable them to understand what they read.

Some children have great difficulties establishing these foundation reading and spelling skills. Research suggests that approximately 10-20% of Australian schoolchildren have significant literacy difficulties. Research also suggests that a large proportion of these children find learning to read extremely difficult despite adequate opportunities and a stimulating home environment. Such children often have significant difficulties with phonological processing : the brain's ability to use information about the speech sounds in language. An overwhelming body of research suggests that phonological processing difficulties may lie at the heart of the reading and spelling difficulties experienced by children with developmental dyslexia (from here on, dyslexia). Children with dyslexia may struggle to learn how to read irrespective of their score on an IQ test or how stimulating their home / school environment is.  

Our speech & language pathologists are highly experienced in assessing, diagnosing and providing intervention for individuals with literacy difficulties. If you are concerned that your child's literacy skills are not developing, an evaluation of your child's skills at our clinic can help to determine why your child is experiencing difficulties and whether specialist help is recommended.