AbstractThere are many challenges and problems associated with speech language impairments and learning. This paper looks at the various speech and language impairments and how they can inhibit academic performance. Speech language impaired children are not able to communicate like their peers and this interferes with learning in the classroom. When children are not competent in communicating, it limits their ability to become engaged in the social and learning environments of school. Students with speech and language disorders are at risk for many learning problems especially in the areas of reading and literacy (language-based disabilities).
This paper mainly looks at the relationship between speech language impairments and early literacy skills. It is beneficial for teachers to understand their students’ communication disorders so they can engage them in communication and learning. Teachers today have such a great responsibility to teach these students since most are mainstreamed in regular education classes along with their peers. Teachers will need additional supports and training to help these students meet their individual learning needs.
Effects of Speech and Language Disorders on LearningLanguage skills are needed in order to communicate for learning. Good communication skills will lead to success in school. I contend that speech and language disorders can inhibit academic performance because they can interfere with communication and learning in the classroom in many diverse ways. My research paper is to investigate speech language disorders and how they affect a child’s ability to learn and communicate in the classroom. Most of this paper will concentrate on language skills because you need language skills to communicate and learn. Reading, writing, listening and speaking are all forms of language and can affect all academic areas. When children are limited in these areas, teachers along with other professionals and parents work to support these children’s educational needs. This understanding of speech and language disorders and how they affect academics is valuable for teachers, professionals, and all people involved to better meet the needs of their speech and language impaired students. This involvement will help the students to become more engaged in their learning process. It will help them to improve their ability to talk clearly, interact with friends, increase reading and writing skills, and allow for more participation in their learning experiences so that they can achieve academic success. Speech and language disorders have become quite prevalent. Few studies have been done that show the prevalence of speech and language impairments in children. One particular study estimated the prevalence of specific language impairment in kindergarten children. According to Tomblin et al, The prevalence obtained was 7.4%, which is higher than many previous estimates, but falls well within the prevalence range of 6% to 8% estimated for SLI by the American Psychiatric Association (1994) (1256-57). This is significant because of the magnitude of this number associated with the diagnosis. There are so many children at risk for speech and language disorders and also at risk for reading and other disorders. This is so important in our world today because these children are mainstreamed most of the time in regular education classrooms along with their peers. Teachers need to have knowledge of all speech and language disorders since they have the major responsibility of teaching these children in the school environment. Some people may believe that speech and language problems do not affect school performance. They may think speech and language disorders just involve the articulation of speech sounds which cannot possibly affect academic performance. This is not the case, because they do not understand and are not aware of the various speech and language disorders. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) indicates Speech and language problems make it hard for your child to learn in school (Speech and Language). There are many communication problems in the schools that affect school performance and learning. A child may have trouble with speech sounds, language and literacy, social communication, cognitive communication, feeding and swallowing, stuttering, and voice. All of these are forms of language, and the better we are with language, the better we can communicate and learn. In addition, ASHA states that if a child has speech or language problems, he may not be able to do grade level work. He may have trouble with reading, writing, and spelling. He may not understand social cues. (Speech and Language). During an interview with Mandie Harris, a speech language pathologist, in the Stillwater Public Schools, I asked her how speech and language disorders can affect academic performance. She began by mentioning some of the ways that academic performance is affected and it is not always what you would think. She stated, It is not always poor grades. The problems are with communication and having conversations with peers, understanding others, expressing thoughts, reading, writing, making friends, participating, and being a part of class activities. Communication is involved in every part of your life. It is difficult for learning to take place without communication. The article Helping Children also states Learning takes place through the process of communication. The ability to participate in active and interactive communication with peers and adults in the educational setting is essential for a student to succeed in school. It is so important because we use all kinds of forms of language when we try to communicate. Our spoken language is the foundation for developing reading and writing. Helping Children explains, that spoken and written language each builds on the other to gain language and literacy competence, starting in early childhood and into adulthood. According to Helping Children, communication disordered children frequently perform at a poor or insufficient academic level, struggle with reading, have difficulty understanding and expressing language, misunderstand social cues, avoid attending school, show poor judgement, and have difficulty with tests. Cooperative efforts by classroom teachers, speech-language pathologists, and other professionals are needed to help these children to become better communicators and overcome their disabilities. According to the UN Aims of Education article, Education goes far beyond formal schooling to embrace the broad range of life experiences and learning processes which enable children, individually and collectively, to develop their personalities, talents and abilities and to live a full and satisfying life within society (UN, 2001,n.p.). Children are individuals and education should be aimed at their individual needs. This is a very big responsibility for teachers to be prepared for and to implement in their classrooms. Meeting the needs of children with speech and language needs can be quite challenging for any teacher. Communication skills are critical for all children. They are necessary for participating in the academic and social environments. Many children have communication problems that are secondary to other primary disorders such as a specific learning disability. These children receive speech and language services as a related service or a secondary disability. According to Thatcher, et al., Children with communication disorders may experience difficulty with academic and social experiences in the school environment. Traditional intervention has addressed the communication disorder as an isolated issue, not accounting for the far-reaching effects that children may experience (579). In this article literacy is definitely a critical skill that every child needs to be successful in school and in their lives (Thatcher, et al., 579). Many children that are identified with speech and language disorders also exhibit deficits in reading and writing. Numerous studies have shown that there is a relationship between speech and language disorders and reading disabilities. The study by Laura Sices et al claims that Preschool children with SSD and LI may benefit from instruction in preliteracy skills in addition to language therapy (2). The study by Sices, et al, indicates children with SSD and a comorbid LI have an increased risk for reading problems. Those exhibiting just a SSD do not seem to be at risk for reading problems after age 6. Both Catts and Sices articles support evidence that children that have speech and language disorders have been shown to have a greater incidence of reading difficulties. Sices claims Disorders of articulation or speech sound disorders are common in early childhood. Children with these disorders may be at risk for reading difficulties because they may have poor auditory, phonologic, and verbal memory skills (438). According to Hugh Catts, These children should be considered primary candidates for early intervention programs designed to prevent or limit reading disabilities (956). This study by Catts provides further documentation that there is a relationship between speech language impairments and reading disabilities, thus affecting academics. Early identification of children with language impairments is important so that appropriate interventions can begin to help prevent reading problems. In addition, there is another study that explains the relationship between language disorders and learning problems. Many children have had language disorders since they were in preschool and continue to have problems, especially those who have had reading problems. The researchers Dorothy Aram and James Nation claim, Children presenting preschool language disorders do constitute a high-risk group of children for later academic and language difficulties (166-67). Because of the importance of communication in learning, there have been many studies in identifying young children with speech and language disorders. These children are at risk not only for their speech and language problems but also for their early literacy skills. According to Ann van Kleeck, Phonological awareness training in classroom contexts appears to be successful with preschool children with a wide range of speech and language abilities (74). This is important for speech-language pathologists and other teachers to know so that they can teach their children phonological awareness skills. Research shows that phonological awareness and early reading abilities are correlated. If we train children in phonological awareness then they will improve their reading. During my research on speech and language disorders, I found it interesting that children with speech sound disorders without a language impairment can be at risk for reading difficulties. I didn’t think reading problems were as prevalent in children with speech sound disorders without a language impairment. According to Sices et al, Children with these disorders may be at risk for reading difficulties because they may have poor auditory, phonologic, and verbal memory skills (438). There are several studies that indicate increased risk of reading difficulties among children with speech sound disorders. In 2011, researchers found phonological skills and print awareness as weaknesses for children with speech sound disorders (SSDs) putting them at risk for reading problems. SSDs are more of the disorders involving speech production but are also referred to as phonological disorders. Children with speech sound disorders are at risk of having reading difficulties but that risk increases when a comorbid language disorder exists (Anthony et al. 146). From all the research reviewed, it seems that there is multitude of evidence that indicates children with speech and language disorders have an increased likelihood of having some problems that affect their academics, especially in the area of reading and literacy. Many children with language impairments exhibit reading problems and early prediction of these difficulties will help support literacy interventions. There are some speech and language disorders that affect more than academic performance and grades. These disorders demonstrate interference when having conversations with peers, understanding others, expressing thoughts, making friends, and being part of the class. Even voice disorders, speech sound disorders, and stuttering make it hard to be understood or hard to talk in front of a class or among peers. This research has shown that speech and language impairments can have a profound effect on all aspects of learning and life. These speech and language impaired children will face many challenges in their early years of learning which may continue on throughout their lives. With proper interventions and support from parents, professionals, and teachers, some may outgrow their problems and overcome their deficits. Some may learn new strategies to help compensate for their delays and some are able to seek out new technologies and alternative modes of communication to help them learn to communicate more effectively. Since speech and language disorders are so prevalent, it is crucial that teachers understand these disorders so that their students can learn to become better communicators and actively participate in the learning process.Works CitedAnthony, Jason L., et al. What Factors Place Children With Speech Sound Disorders at Risk for Reading Problems? American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, vol. 20, no. 2, Jan. 2011, p. 146-160., doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2011/10-0053).Aram, Dorothy M., and James E. Nation. Preschool Language Disorders and Subsequent Language and Academic Difficulties. Journal of Communication Disorders, vol. 13, no. 2, 1980, pp. 159″170., doi:10.1016/0021-9924(80)90033-7.Catts, Hugh W. The Relationship between Speech-Language Impairments and Reading Disabilities. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, vol. 36, Oct. 1993, pp. 948″958., doi:10.1515/9783110879575.167.Harris, Mandie. Personal interview. 30 Nov. 2018. Helping Children with Communication Disorders in the Schools. Reading Rockets, 24 Aug. 2017, www.readingrockets.org/article/helping-children-communication-disorders-schools. Sices, Laura et al. Relationship between speech-sound disorders and early literacy skills in preschool-age children: impact of comorbid language impairment Journal of developmental and behavioral pediatrics: JDBP vol. 28,6 (2007): 438-47. Speech and Language Services in Schools. Accessed 28 Oct. 2018. Thatcher, Karen L., et al. Communication Disorders in the School: Perspectives on Academic and Social Success an Introduction. Psychology in the Schools, vol. 45, no. 7, 2008, pp. 579″581., doi:10.1002/pits.20310. Tomblin, J. Bruce, et al. Prevalence of Specific Language Impairment in Kindergarten Children. Journal of Speech Language and Hearing Research, vol. 40, no. 6, Jan. 1997, pp. 1245-1260. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4006.1245.UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), General Comment No. 1 (2001), Article 29 (1), The Aims of Education, 17 Apr. 2001, CRC/GC/2001/1, www.refworld.org/docid/4538834d2.html.van Kleek, Anne, et al. A Study of Classroom-Based Phonological Awareness Training for Preschoolers With Speech and/or Language Disorders. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, vol. 7, no. 3, Aug. 1998, pp. 65″76.