SP in Schools project 2017 Low Res V2

supporting those who are in the educational as well as care environment of children to understand and use AAC modelling, including using aided AAC as they are speaking with the student, as part of naturalistic communication interactions (ASHA). Along with all the skills that typically developing children are acquiring, students with CCN need to learn different and additional skills. For example, they may need to learn to recognise symbols and understand what they represent, or how to “repair” interactions when the person they are talking with misinterprets their meaning, or how and when to increase and decrease the volume of their communication device, or when to use gesture to greet someone, rather than taking the time to generate speech output on a device. Light’s Communication competencies provide a useful framework to identify goals for intervention to support children to participate using AAC in the educational context. (Light & McNaughton, 2014.) If there is a language disorder, it is likely that the development of literacy will also be affected. Language and literacy skills do not develop in isolation but over time and are dependent on students’ skills as well as environmental exposure and demands. Students with CCN will often need or benefit from the same interventions as children with speech sound disorders or developmental language disorder, as well as requiring specific and additional supports due to the specific and additional barriers they face to developing literacy. For example, children who have limited or no speech do not have the same ability to “sound out” words, or even to match a letter with the motor pattern associated with that sound. (Hetzroni, 2004: Millar, Light, & McNaughton, 2004). Children with CCN may also have changed and reduced experiences of shared book reading, which can impact on their opportunities to develop literacy. For example, it may be difficult for them to request that a favourite book is read repeatedly. They may not have been able to ask questions, or make comments, or “pretend” to read a book that they have memorised, have limited opportunities to ask questions or practice with books (Light & Kelford-Smith, 1993).

Research focusing on students with CCN who use AAC has highlighted the discrepancy between their cognitive abilities and predicted literacy skills (Sandberg, 2006). Therefore, it is critical that professionals who work with students with CCN identify appropriate AAC to promote literacy and to develop effective strategies that foster acquisition of skills necessary for literacy development. As professionals with expertise in communication and AAC, you as speech pathologists can play an important and unique role in working with teachers and other educational staff (as well as the student and their family) to help embed the use of AAC to support a student’s literacy development (Sturm & Clendon, 2004; Hetzroni, 2004; Erickson, Koppenhaver, & Cunningham, 2006; Porter, 1997). AAC users, who may not have the ability to produce speech, face unique challenges in the development of phonological awareness skills. The development of literacy skills for students who are AAC users can be even more important, not only because it supports their ability to generate novel and spontaneous utterances using text, but also because it can provide for access to new experiences, and may be a critical skill to enable them to enter the job market (Smith & Blischak, 1997).


Speech Pathology Australia: Speech Pathology in Schools Project

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