In the Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) classroom, there are many children with language disorders (primary or secondary diagnosis), and these children are known to be at-risk for reading disability. This is a study the long-term impact of classroom print-focused read-alouds on the early literacy skills of these children.
This study is a follow-up to a previous study demonstrating an effective early literacy intervention. The 172 children with language disorders available for follow-up were given tests of print knowledge one year post-intervention. The results indicated long-term print knowledge gains. Interestingly, the greatest benefit was for children with the lowest language skills and also low nonverbal cognition. The authors predict this may be because these children were more likely to be in classrooms with weak literacy practices, and may also have fewer reading experiences at home.
So—how does the intervention work? The intervention lasts 30 weeks, during which one book per week is read four times per week to an ECSE class. The classroom teacher delivers the intervention, which is basically just a modification to a typical classroom read-aloud. There are 30 books on the reading list, all very commonly-found in preschool classrooms. The teacher follows a script for how to modify the reading to become print-focused. The research team found great fidelity results—teachers can, and will, do this.
Now, here’s the best part—their treatment manual and all the materials are freely available online!!! So you don’t have to guess how the print-focused read-alouds went down. You have a script for exactly what to say/do for each book. Here’s the lab website, where you can download everything: . Note that even though their treatment manual is available for free online, there’s also a “pretty” version here.
Have you ever had a student who scored higher on expressive language than receptive on a standardized test? If not yet, it’s something you’ll see sooner or later, and is more likely to happen in certain populations than others Recall how Haebig & Sterling found this to be the case sometimes for autism, and also occasionally Fragile X? There are quite a few studies in the literature demonstrating this effect in children with autism, but expected proportions are all over the place. This month’s article importantly demonstrates that the receptive–expressive discrepancy is age-dependent.
The data from this study is pooled from previous longitudinal studies. They examined Preschool Language Scale scores of children with autism, and found that the majority of children with autism had receptive language scores lower than expressive between ages two and three, but as they approached ages four and five, the discrepancy disappeared. Now, a few things to note:
In addition to examining the scores of children with autism, the authors also looked at scores of late talkers (who did not later receive an autism diagnosis) and found that the receptive scores of these children were all higher than expressive. This information can support clinicians in understanding the likely trajectory of early childhood students on their caseload.
The authors suggest, “…these results underscore the notion that best clinical practice is to consider both receptive and expressive language during assessment rather than just considering overall language level.” They also state, “…most treatments for ASD do not directly target comprehension, a point that has been previously criticized (Camarata, 2014),” and, “…parents and clinicians should concentrate on what toddlers with ASD understand as well as focusing on their language production.”
Davidson, M.M., Weismer, S.E. (2017). A discrepancy in comprehension and production in early language development in ASD? Is it clinically relevant? Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. Advance online publication. doi: 10.3109/17549507.2013.858773.
This meta-analysis looked at results from 2nd–9th grade inference interventions (with most on 3rd–8th-graders). The authors identified seven primary types of inference instruction, and describe each. The two most common (over 2/3 of studies) were:
Overall, they found moderate to large effects of inference instruction on reading comprehension for both skilled and unskilled readers. Interestingly, the less skilled readers also, “…benefitted substantially on literal measures of comprehension after receiving inference instruction.” That’s right! Inference instruction not only improved the students’ ability to “read between the lines”, but read, well, the lines as well. The authors predict it may be because: “Many of the studies in this review provided explicit instruction in finding pertinent information in a text and integrating it with prior knowledge to answer inferential questions. It seems that this type of instruction would be especially beneficial to less skilled readers, as it would… require them to attend to important details to which they may not otherwise have noticed.”
They also found that students in small groups achieved better learning outcomes than those in whole-class instruction, and that it didn’t take a ton of instruction to show effects: “Although higher order skills are considered difficult to teach, surprisingly, most of the studies showed positive results in relatively short periods of time (i.e., less than 10 hr).”
Of the various types methods of inference instruction, however, it was not possible to determine which was best. The authors explain that this is because so many of the studies used several types of inference instruction within one intervention, plus many methods of teaching one type (e.g. there are many ways to get a child to draw upon background knowledge), so results were impossible to tease apart.
Elleman, A. (2017). Examining the impact of inference instruction on the literal and inferential comprehension of skilled and less skilled readers: a meta-analytic review. Journal of Educational Psychology. Advance online publication. doi.org/10.1037/edu0000180.
This study explored the word learning abilities of children with dyslexia compared to matched typically-developing peers. Now, many of us know that children with dyslexia present with phonological deficits. However, it’s easy to forget that their phonological difficulties aren’t limited to the written modality, but children with dyslexia have difficulties with phonological processing of spoken language as well.
The results of this study show that children with dyslexia had difficulty with tasks that challenged their phonological skills, including detecting others’ verbal mispronunciations, and naming (seeing something, recalling its name, saying it). And, perhaps most interesting to practicing clinicians, the authors compared not only phonological manipulations, but visuospatial manipulations as well. They found that, “… visuospatial information both helped and hindered learning…” and thus, “…educators should not assume that all visual supports will be helpful or will override the phonological deficits found in many children with dyslexia.” At this time, further research is needed to identify how to manipulate visual stimuli best for children with dyslexia.
So, what to do with the visual supports you’ve been using? Keep at it, for now. But just pay close attention to your clinical data, and don’t assume that the extra visual information is extra helpful.
Alt, M., Hogan, T., Green, S., Gray, S., Cabbage, K., Cowan, N. (2017). Word learning deficits in children with dyslexia. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 60, 1012–1028.
Last month we said we’d notify you of all the Perspective Pieces published every three months. Well…. changed our minds. Because there are a ton of really good ones this month!
These are all from a special issue from Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools on Reading Comprehension:
Armstrong, R., Whitehouse, A.J.O., Scott, J.G., Copland, D.A., McMahon, K.L., Fleming, S., Arnott, W. (2017). A relationship between early language skills and adult autistic-like traits: evidence from a longitudinal population-based study. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 47, 5, 1478–1489.
Guo, L-Y., Spencer, L.J. (2017). Development of Grammatical Accuracy in English-Speaking Children With Cochlear Implants: A Longitudinal Study. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 60, 1062–1075.
Kefalianos, E., Onslow, M., Ukoumunne, O.C., Block, S., Reilly, S. (2017). Temperament and Early Stuttering Development: Cross-Sectional Findings From a Community Cohort. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 60, 772–784.
Loomes, R., Hull, L. Mandy, W.P.L. (2017). What is the male-to-female ration in autism spectrum disorder? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Advance online publication. doi.org/10.1016/j.jaac.2017.03.013.
Nippold, M.A., (2017). Reading Comprehension Deficits in Adolescents: Addressing Underlying Language Abilities. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in the Schools, 48, 125–131.
Smith, K.A., Iverach, L., O'Brian, S., Mensah, F., Kefalianos, E., Hearne, A., Reilly, S. (2017) Anxiety in 11-Year-Old Children Who Stutter: Findings From a Prospective Longitudinal Community Sample. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. Advance online publication. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-S-16-0035.
Thomas, D.C., McCabe, P., Ballard, K.J. (2017). Combined clinician–parent delivery of rapid syllable transition (ReST) treatment for childhood apraxia of speech. International Journal of Speech–Language Pathology. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/17549507.2017.1316423.
Quinn, E.D., Rowland, C. (2017). Exploring Expressive Communication Skills in a Cross-Sectional Sample of Children and Young Adults With Angelman Syndrome. American Journal of Speech–Language Pathology. Advance online publication. doi:10.1044/2016_AJSLP-15-0075.
This April 2017 edition of TISLP was
written and researched
by Meredith Harold, PhD, CCC-SLP.
Dr. Harold and The Informed SLP have no conflicts of interest to disclose at this time.
For April 2017,
we reviewed 34 journals and
identified 98 articles as potentially relevant to Pediatric and School-Based SLPs. We then narrowed it down to what's covered here. For more on how we do this, see FAQ.
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