Literacy is a developmental skill that entails the individual’s ability to read and write. We start applying reading skills (orthographic reading) from a very young age. Initially, such reading takes more the form of shape/pattern recognition, e.g., reading ‘STOP’ from a sign, recognising DVD names and titles, reading car names from the logo, etc... A three year old can easily accomplish such tasks.

Children enjoy being read to from a very early age. Whilst the caregiver is reading to the child s/he is passing on precursor reading skills that will be useful later on: holding the book upright, turning the pages and pointing to words and following the direction of the text using the finger are some of these. As the child gets older and his/her comprehension becomes more advanced, being read to becomes a more complex and pleasurable activity.

Later on, literacy is targeted more specifically at school, where the child learns to read more structurally, starts learning how to spell for reading and writing, and learns to read for content and comprehension. Writing has also taken off by now and the child moves from writing graphemes (letters), to writing syllables, to writing words, sentences and to more complex compositions and essays incorporating both cohesion and relevant information.

There are certain skills that are instilled within the child before he can read or write of his/her own accord. These are known as phonological awareness skills and are the foundation on which reading and writing is based. On the other hand, there are certain schools of thought that claim that reading and writing affect phonological awareness skills. Whichever side is taken, phonological awareness skills are a necessary tool to learning how to read and write.

A number of children who have a history of a speech and language delay and, later on, phonological difficulties are most likely to be at risk of having reading and writing difficulties later on as well. The reason for this is that literacy and verbal communication are strongly related. This is not only because reading skills make use of phonological units, but also because understanding what you read, and writing about something involve the abilities to think about and use language creatively.

Therefore, early intervention and/or continuing speech-language therapy are the best options for children with a history of speech and language problems. At A.T.L.A.S. Training the SLT works on all aspects of a reading and writing problem because people use literacy for a variety of functional purposes: from writing single words to writing a school essay; from reading a sign to reading a recipe, an ordinary book or a work memo. The SLT also works with the OT and teacher if necessary to help the child become an effective communicator, problem-solver, and decision-maker.

These are some of the skills targeted during literacy therapy:

  • Working on and reinforcing phonological awareness skills,
  • Spelling
  • First stages in reading and writing simple to more complex word
  • Reading for content and comprehension
  • Reading and writing fluently and efficiently
  • Planning and sequencing what to write and what to write about, and most of all
  • Reading and writing for the pure pleasure of these skills

As a parent, you too can help and support your child on the path to literacy:

  • - Provide plenty of opportunities for book reading and story telling
  • Have a variety of books with varied content available
  • Choose books with simple pictures which can be labeled and described in simple language
  • Talk about writing and its functions i.e., when writing a shopping list
  • Let your child see you reading and enjoying books