Blog Archives

Phonemic awareness and literacy acquisition

This review focuses on phonological awareness (PA) skills and their key role both in literacy acquisition and development and in explaining reading and writing difficulties; in particular, we focus on phonemic awareness, which implies awareness of the smallest speech units. Several questions about PA are addressed; we discuss major research findings over the past few decades both in typically developing children and children with dyslexia, mainly carried out in Spanish. We also discuss the development of PA and how children’s implicit knowledge of speech sounds progresses into explicit knowledge through kindergarten games and other experiences with oral language and, especially, when children start to learn how to read and write. This process is not free of difficulties, given the phenomenon of coarticulation. This step signifies the development of distinct levels of PA skills, which predict reading and writing acquisition. Additionally, the difficulties of dyslexic children in PA tasks are discussed; these difficulties are more evident in speed processing than in accuracy. Finally, the present article reviews issues that should be taken into account when PA tasks are designed both for assessment and intervention. Practical implications for effective intervention for the development and enhancement of PA skills are discussed.

from Revista de Logopedia, Foniatría y Audiología


Cognitive-linguistic performances of multilingual university students suspected of dyslexia

High-performing adults with compensated dyslexia pose particular challenges to dyslexia diagnostics. We compared the performance of 20 multilingual Finnish university students with suspected dyslexia with 20 age-matched and education-matched controls on an extensive test battery. The battery tapped various aspects of reading, writing, word retrieval, phonological processing and other cognitive functions relevant for dyslexia. Reading and writing were examined in the two domestic languages, Swedish and Finnish. The most prominent group differences in reading and writing emerged on accuracy measures in both languages (reading text aloud, proofreading, writing to dictation, free writing). The dyslexia group also performed less well on speeded segmentation of written input, complex speeded naming and complex phoneme manipulation. The pattern of results fits the phonological deficit hypothesis of dyslexia and indicates the presence of pervasive underlying defects in compensated dyslexia.

from Dyslexia

Students’ performance in phonological awareness, rapid naming, reading, and writing*

students with learning difficulties presented deficits when considering the relationship between naming and automatization skills, and among lexical access, visual discrimination, stimulus frequency use and competition in using less time for code naming, i.e. necessary for the phoneme-grapheme conversion process required in the reading and writing alphabetic system like the Portuguese language.

from Pró-Fono Revista de Atualização Científica

Central and peripheral components of writing critically depend on a defined area of the dominant superior parietal gyrus

Classical neuropsychological models of writing separate central (linguistic) processes common to oral spelling, writing and typing from peripheral (motor) processes that are modality specific. Damage to the left superior parietal gyrus, an area of the cortex involved in peripheral processes specific to handwriting, should generate distorted graphemes but not misspelled words, while damage to other areas of the cortex like the frontal lobe should produce alterations in written and oral spelling without distorted graphemes. We describe the clinical and neuropsychological features of a patient with combined agraphia for handwriting and typewriting bearing a small glioblastoma in the left parietal lobe. His agraphia resolved after antiedema therapy and we tested by bipolar cortical stimulation his handwriting abilities during an awake neurosurgical procedure. We found that we could reversibly re-induce the same defects of writing by stimulating during surgery a limited area of the superior parietal gyrus in the same patient and in an independent patient that was never agraphic before the operation. In those patients stimulation caused spelling errors, poorly formed letters and in some cases a complete cessation of writing with minimal or no effects on oral spelling. Our results suggest that stimulating a specific area in the superior parietal gyrus we can generate different patterns of agraphia. Moreover, our findings also suggest that some of the central processes specific for typing and handwriting converge with motor processes at least in the limited portion of the superior parietal gyrus we mapped in our patients.

from Brain Research

Relationship of Word- and Sentence-Level Working Memory to Reading and Writing in Second, Fourth, and Sixth Grade

Results: At each grade level, except for handwriting and composing in 6th grade, the word-level working memory factor contributed unique variance to each reading and writing outcome. The text-level working memory factor contributed unique variance to reading comprehension in 4th and 6th grade.

from Language, Speech and Hearing Services in Schools


The Contribution of the Parietal Lobes to Speaking and Writing

The left parietal lobe has been proposed as a major language area. However, parietal cortical function is more usually considered in terms of the control of actions, contributing both to attention and cross-modal integration of external and reafferent sensory cues. We used positron emission tomography to study normal subjects while they overtly generated narratives, both spoken and written. The purpose was to identify the parietal contribution to the modality-specific sensorimotor control of communication, separate from amodal linguistic and memory processes involved in generating a narrative. The majority of left and right parietal activity was associated with the execution of writing under visual and somatosensory control irrespective of whether the output was a narrative or repetitive reproduction of a single grapheme. In contrast, action-related parietal activity during speech production was confined to primary somatosensory cortex. The only parietal area with a pattern of activity compatible with an amodal central role in communication was the ventral part of the left angular gyrus (AG). The results of this study indicate that the cognitive processing of language within the parietal lobe is confined to the AG and that the major contribution of parietal cortex to communication is in the sensorimotor control of writing.

from Cerebral Cortex

Treatment of written verb and written sentence production in an individual with aphasia: A clinical study

Background: Although the efficacy of treatments for spoken verb and sentence production deficits in aphasia has been documented widely, less is known about interventions for written verb and written sentence production deficits.

Aims: This study documents a treatment aiming to improve production of (a) written subject-verb sentences (involving intransitive verbs) and (b) written subject-verb-object sentences (involving transitive verbs).

Methods & Procedures: The participant, a 63-year-old female aphasic speaker, had a marked language comprehension deficit, apraxia of speech, relatively good spelling abilities, and no hemiplegia. The treatment involved intransitive verbs producing subject-verb active sentences and transitive verbs producing subject-verb-object active non-reversible sentences. The treatment was undertaken in the context of current UK clinical practice.

Outcomes & Results: Statistical improvements were noted for the trained sets of verbs and sentences. Other improvements were also noted in LW’s ability to retrieve some non-treated verbs and construct written sentences. Treatment did not generalise to sentence comprehension and letter spelling to dictation.

Conclusions: Our participant’s ability to write verbs and sentences improved as a result of the treatment.

from Aphasiology

Effects of listening ability on speaking, writing and reading skills of children who were suspected of auditory processing difficulty

It was concluded that, for school-aged children, APD can lead to or is associated with difficulties in written language.

from the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology

Emergent Name-Writing Abilities of Preschool-Age Children With Language Impairment.

Purpose: The 2 studies reported in this manuscript collectively address 3 aims: (a) to characterize the name-writing abilities of preschool-age children with language impairment (LI), (b) to identify those emergent literacy skills that are concurrently associated with name-writing abilities, and (c) to compare the name-writing abilities of children with LI to those of their typical language (TL) peers. Method: Fifty-nine preschool-age children with LI were administered a battery of emergent literacy and language assessments, including a task in which the children were asked to write their first names. A subset of these children (n = 23) was then compared to a TL-matched sample to characterize performance differences. Results: Results showed that the name-writing abilities of preschoolers with LI were associated with skills in alphabet knowledge and print concepts. Hierarchical multiple regression analysis indicated that only alphabet knowledge uniquely contributed to the variance in concurrent name-writing abilities. In the matched comparison, the TL group demonstrated significantly more advanced name-writing representations than the LI group. Conclusions: Children with LI lag significantly behind their TL peers in name-writing abilities. Speech-language pathologists are encouraged to address the print-related skills of children with LI within their clinical interventions. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
from Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools

A meta-analysis of single subject design writing intervention research.

There is considerable concern that students do not develop the writing skills needed for school, occupational, or personal success. A frequent explanation for this is that schools do not do a good job of teaching this complex skill. A recent meta-analysis of true- and quasi-experimental writing intervention research (S. Graham & D. Perin, 2007a) addressed this issue by identifying effective instructional writing practices. The current review extends this earlier work by conducting a meta-analysis of single subject design writing intervention studies. The authors located 88 single subject design studies where it was possible to calculate an effect size. They calculated an average effect size for treatments that were tested in 4 or more studies, using a similar outcome measure in each study. This resulted in the identification of 9 writing treatments that were supported as effective. These were strategy instruction for planning/drafting, teaching grammar and usage, goal setting for productivity, strategy instruction for editing, writing with a word processor, reinforcing specific writing outcomes, use of prewriting activities, teaching sentence construction skills, and strategy instruction for paragraph writing. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2008 APA, all rights reserved)

from the Journal of Educational Psychology

Evidence-Based Literacy Instruction for Individuals Who Require Augmentative and Alternative Communication: A Case Study of a Student with Multiple Disabilities

from Seminars in Speech and Language

Literacy skills provide numerous benefits to individuals who require augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), including new opportunities for education, work, and social interaction. Literacy skills also have a powerful impact on communication and language development. This paper describes the components of effective evidence-based literacy instruction, including skills to target for instruction, effective instructional procedures to teach these skills, and adaptations to accommodate the needs of individuals with significant speech, motor, and other disabilities. The paper also presents a case study that describes ongoing intervention with an 8-year-old girl with multiple disabilities who required AAC. Evidence-based instruction was provided in phonologic awareness, letter-sound correspondences, decoding, sight-word recognition, reading connected text, reading comprehension skills, and early writing and keyboarding skills. During the 16 months of intervention, a total of 55 hours of instruction, the student acquired 20 letter-sound correspondences, learned to use decoding and sight-word skills to read 60 words, and began to read simple texts both in shared reading activities and independently. She also began to type simple short messages and stories using spelling approximations. The acquisition of these new literacy skills resulted in increased educational opportunities for the learner and also enhanced her language and communication skills.

Early Literacy of Kindergartners With Hearing Impairment

from Topics in Early Childhood Special Education

The study assessed the value of maternal writing mediation in predicting children’s early literacy. Thirty kindergartners with hearing impairment (HI) and their mothers participated. Mothers were videotaped at home while helping their children write words, and the children’s early literacy was assessed in the kindergarten. Maternal writing mediation was analyzed in terms of its cognitive and emotional aspects. Results show that beyond the child’s age and his or her degree of hearing loss, the cognitive aspects of maternal writing mediation predicted word writing (11%), word recognition (34%), and letter knowledge (35%). Beyond the background measures, the emotional aspects of the mediation predicted word recognition (12%), letter knowledge (14%), and general knowledge (9%). Discussion focuses on writing interactions as a context of early literacy development among kindergartners with HI.

A voice-detecting sensor and a scanning keyboard emulator to support word writing by two boys with extensive motor disabilities

from Research in Developmental Disabilities

The present study assessed the use of a voice-detecting sensor interfaced with a scanning keyboard emulator to allow two boys with extensive motor disabilities to write. Specifically, the study (a) compared the effects of the voice-detecting sensor with those of a familiar pressure sensor on the boys’ writing time, (b) checked which of the sensors the boys preferred, and (c) conducted a social validation assessment of the boys’ performance with the two sensors, employing psychology students as raters. The difference in the boys’ overall mean writing time per letter across sensors was, by the end of the study, about 1.5 s. This difference favored the pressure sensor for one of the boys and the voice-detecting sensor for the other boy. Both boys showed preference for the voice-detecting sensor. Moreover, the psychology students involved in the social validation assessment indicated that such sensor was more satisfactory, suitable, and educationally relevant than the pressure sensor, and represented the solution that they as raters supported more.

Heidelberg Phoneme Discrimination Test (HLAD): Normative Data for Children of the Third Grade and Correlation with Spelling Ability

from Folia Phoniatrica et Logopaedica

Objective: The Heidelberg Phoneme Discrimination Test (HLAD), developed and standardized in 1998, is widely used in the differential diagnosis of dyslexia. Normative data have only been available for children of the 2nd and 4th grades, while norms for the 3rd grade are still missing. Patients andMethods: We assessed three HLAD subtests [auditory phoneme discrimination, kinesthetic phoneme discrimination (repeating minimal pairs) and phoneme analysis] in 140 children of the 3rd grade from eight elementary schools. Writing capacity was tested via DRT3. Results: Comparing children of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th grades, we found a continuing increase in phoneme discrimination capacity with age. This increase was especially evident for the task of auditory comparison. For the 3rd grade, the correlation between HLAD and writing test (qualitative analysis) was 0.55, and 0.36 between HLAD and writing (quantitative analysis). The correlation with writing tasks was highest in the 2nd grade. Conclusion: The steady increase in phoneme discrimination capacity from the 2nd to 4th grade may indicate maturation and learning effects at least until the age of 10 years.

Written and Oral Narratives of Children and Adolescents With Down Syndrome

from the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research

Purpose: This study describes written and spoken narrative skills of school-age individuals with Down syndrome (DS).

Method: Twenty-one students with DS (age 6;6 [years;months]–19;10) and 17 reading-matched, typically developing (TD) controls (age 4;9–10;9) were matched using Word Identification subtest raw scores (Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests—Revised; R. W. Woodcock, 1987; age equivalents: 5;0–9;7 for both groups). Matching on reading resulted in significantly higher mental ages and vocabulary comprehension age-equivalent scores for the controls. Narratives were elicited in 3 modes (oral, handwritten, and word-processed) using single-episode picture sequences. Narratives were analyzed for length, linguistic complexity, narrative structure, spelling, punctuation, and handwriting legibility.

Results: Analyses revealed significant group differences only for measures of narrative length (DS > TD) and handwriting legibility (TD > DS). Oral narratives were longer and more complex than written narratives for both groups. Regression analyses revealed that vocabulary comprehension was the best predictor of narrative skills for the group with DS; age was the best predictor of narrative skills for the TD group.

Conclusions: These school-age students with DS exhibited many oral and written narrative abilities that were comparable with those of real-word-reading-matched controls. Several findings suggest a possible increased constraint of fine-motor skill in the DS group.