Welcome back to term 4. We hope everyone was able to enjoy some extra quality language building activities with family over the break.
Term 4 is a busy term for the speech pathology team. We focus on preparing for those students who are transitioning to other schools at the end of the year, as well as beginning to prepare to welcome our new students and families for next year.
This week we are also excited to be celebrate DLD Day on Friday 15th of October. RADLD stands for Raising Awareness of Developmental Language Disorders. DLD is diagnosed when children have difficulty acquiring their own language for no obvious reason. This results in children who have difficulty understanding what people say to them, and struggle to articulate their ideas and feelings. DLD is not well known, but on average it affects 2 children in every mainstream class of 30 children. It can severely hinder academic performance. You may already be familiar with the term because many students at Fremantle LDC have this diagnosis. DLD or RADLD day is about raising awareness in the wider community and ensure all students, not just those at the LDC, can receive support and understanding.
This year the staff at each of our sites are running various activities to promote awareness within our mainstream school sites. This will include holding morning teas and information talks for staff, distributing lolly bags and information packs, as well as displaying posters around the various sites. As parents, you play an active role in raising awareness as you advocate for your child in the wider community.
If you would like more information about DLD or information to share with friends, family and the wider community the RADLD website is very useful: https://radld.org/
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At Fremantle LDC both teachers and speech pathologist work to support students’ phonological awareness skills and more specifically phonemic awareness skills.
Phonological awareness refers to knowing the language we hear can be broken into chunks of sound. The sound chunks can be syllables, rhyme and individual sounds (phonemes). The ability to hear the individual sounds is called phonemic awareness. The ability to split/segment a word into sounds is important for spelling. Being able to push/blend the sounds together is important for reading.
Some of the ways we work on phonological and phonemic awareness skills include:
- Splitting up words into syllables (e.g. How many syllables are in the word elephant?)
- Identifying the first, middle and final sounds in words (e.g. what is the first sound in sat?)
- Blending sounds together to make whole words (e.g. what word does ‘s—a—t’ make?)
- Deletion of sounds from words (e.g. what word does it make if I remove the ‘s’ from ‘sat’)
- Manipulation of sounds in words (e.g. what word does it make if I switch the ‘s’ in ‘sat’ to ‘m’)
Children with language difficulties and Development Language Disorders can find these tasks quite challenging particularly in the early stages. How adults say the sounds to children can be really important for developing their skills. These are the rules we follow when demonstrating and doing any phonological awareness task with our students:
- Make long sounds continuous without adding on an ‘uh’ or other sound: f, l, m, n, r, s, v, z
- Make sure not to use your voice on voiceless sounds (don’t add on an ‘uh’ or other sound): p, t, k, c, h. You can place your hand on your throat when saying these sounds to make sure your voice box is not vibrating.
For more information on how to produce the sounds accurately try this website: https://www.spelfabet.com.au/2018/05/phonemes-are-sounds-and-articulatory-gestures/
Typically children are able to combine words to form a diverse range of sentences by around 2 ½ years of age. These basic sentences usually include some form of a subject (i.e. person, animal or thing) doing an action. Initially the subject of the sentence is about what the child wants or has e.g. I want juice. Gradually, the range of subjects grows and includes a focus on other people or objects using simple pronoun e.g. That go in. He want car. and then expanding further to include a specific noun as a subject e.g. Ball go in., Baby want milk, Block fall down. Young children with Developmental Language Disorders (DLD) may have difficulty developing and using a diverse range of subjects in their sentences. Researchers at the University of Illinois have developed a strategy call Toy Talk which can be very useful for supporting this at home, particularly with our Kindergarten and Pre-Primary children.
This strategy is very similar to the commenting or parallel talk strategy you may have learnt about if you have attended our Talk Learn Grow Group for Kindy children or Hanen Groups through other speech pathology services. When using parallel talk you have learnt to comment on your child’s actions as they engage in activities that interest them e.g. You’re building a tower. In Toy Talk you are encourage to:
- Talk about the toys, rather than your child, when your child is playing. Specifically talk about the toy’s location, properties and actions.
- Name the object your child is playing with rather than using a pronoun (i.e. Use the label “blocks” when you child builds a tower rather than saying “it”).
Toy Talk sentences might become like
- The tower is getting bigger. As your child builds a tower with blocks
- The tower fell down. As your child knocks over a tower
- The cow goes in. As your child does a farm yard puzzle
- The noodles are coming out. As your child plays with a playdough press
- The train is coming through. As your child sends a train through a tunnel
As with anything new, this strategy can feel strange at first. You may worry about getting it right, but the thing to always keep in mind is, as long as you are having fun your child will enjoy you engaging with them as they play.