Can Speech Therapy Help With Dyslexia?
The value of intervention
Dyslexia can greatly impact a child’s or adult’s ability to learn new information. A common misconception is that dyslexia is simply when someone “reverses” letters when reading. While this can be a characteristic of dyslexia, it is far from the entire picture.
Today, we’re going to examine how speech therapy can help those with dyslexia. Before we can address that, we’ll begin by discussing what dyslexia truly is.
What is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a term used to describe someone having difficulty reading printed words, even though the person has average intelligence and has been taught how to read. The difficulty is often caused by the phonological component of language, which is the aspect of language that dictates how sounds go together to create words.
Due to this deficit, children and adults can have issues sounding out letters and putting them together to form words, as well as having problems spelling words. Furthermore, those with dyslexia usually have average or above-average intelligence, meaning that dyslexia is not caused by a lack of intelligence.
Dyslexia greatly impacts reading comprehension. Even if the individual is able to sound out the printed words, they may have issues understanding what they read. The reason behind this is that fluent reading massively increases reading comprehension, so a lack of fluency decreases it.
How will Speech Therapy Help Those with Dyslexia?
A speech-language pathologist (SLP) has the qualifications and education necessary to help those with phonological deficits. This is because many people who seek speech therapy, not only those with dyslexia, have lacking phonological skills. As such, imparting these skills is vital for an effective SLP.
People often ignore SLPs when treating dyslexia since the phonological deficit does not typically impact speech. However, teaching students exercises that will improve their overall phonological skills will have a direct impact on dyslexia. Furthermore, many people with dyslexia have language learning problems, which a speech therapist can also help resolve.
Types of Speech Therapy that Will Help with Dyslexia
The first step that an SLP will take with a new patient will be to conduct a thorough assessment of their current abilities. The speech therapist will assess three main areas:
- Speech sound skills: Are there any phonological processes being used in speech?
- Phonological awareness skills: How does the individual handle tasks such as rhyming, segmenting, and blending?
- Overall language skills: How does the individual score on receptive and expressive language tests?
Once the SLP has completed their assessment, they will be able to provide the necessary therapy to help the targeted problem areas. Below we will describe the various types of therapy that someone with dyslexia might receive.
Speech Sound Errors
An individual having trouble with various speech sounds that are related to phonological problems will typically have issues pronouncing entire groups of sounds. For example, the person might replace a long “s” sound with a shorter “t” sound. The individual may have one or more of these types of errors happening at the same time.
An SLP should treat speech sound errors by showing the individual the correct and incorrect way to produce the sounds in question. It will take plenty of practice and repetition, but correcting sound errors can directly impact dyslexia.
This classification of skills is related to pre-reading skills that become vital in reading and spelling printed words. They are the skills that enable individuals to construct sounds and combine them to create words. Some examples of phonological skills are:
- Syllable blending
- Segmenting syllables
- Ability to identify words with the same beginning sound
- Ability to segment words into their individual sounds
- Letter-sound correspondence
Someone with dyslexia likely had issues with some or all of the above skills before they began reading. Returning to these skills will help strengthen them, lessening the impact of dyslexia. There are various activities that an SLP may deploy to help someone hone the above skills.
Language Skill Deficits
Sometimes, an individual will have low skills on expressive and receptive language tests. If this is the case, there may be more issues beyond dyslexia present. There may be issues constructing sentences, understanding grammar rules, and other related issues. A therapist will need to create a customized plan to help address dyslexia as well as any other language problems.
Speech Therapy Can Help
Even though dyslexia impacts reading and writing, and not speaking, a speech therapist can help those with dyslexia. After an assessment, the SLP will create a customized plan that will help the patient learn the required skills to help them overcome dyslexia.