ASHA Thursday Morning: Evidenced Based Literacy Instruction for Individuals Who Require AAC
By Samuel Charles Sennott
After battling the crowds, I made it to Janice Light’s session titled: Evidence -Based Literacy Intervention for Individuals Who Require AAC. (Download the Handout) The AAC-RERC sponsored project focuses on identifying top priority literacy skills to teach early learners and then implementing model instruction over time. The case studies presented were terrific. The first student was a seven year old who uses some speech, as well as a SGD to communicate and engage in literacy activities. The initial instructional component prioritizes phoneme segmentation and blending as starting points of phonologial awareness work. One of the most powerful points that came out of this first case, was the advocacy for using the letter sounds in instruction as well as during partner assisted scanning of the alphabet. In many ways this makes perfect sense, as what does knowing the letter names get you. I do see some value in that letters make multiple sounds, but I think that trading the learner’s clearer path to getting to learning the primary letter sound is much more important. Terrific point to really think about and compare to what we know and see. Excellent video was shown in the presentation and this first student is shown to be doing excellent shared reading and is highly engaged.
The second and third cases showed the progression that was demonstrated in this study. The children both grew in their literacy skills, as well as serving as a scaffold for language development. This was one of the key points of the presentation. It was terrific to see these students spelling and talking in the literacy instruction combined with hearing anecdotal stories of how they are generalizing these skills. One touching story was of a girl driving her wheel chair in to see her Mom at breakfast and then bringing her to the computer where she wrote: “Mom eat”. That is what it is all about.
Overall, this study looks terrific and brings up the very important question about if we should teach conventional literacy skills to learners using AAC at an earlier age? If so, why? It will be interesting to consider the balance of different rules for learners who write to talk with what we know is good for pre-k learners. That seems to be what ASHA is about for me. I know the power of what new ways like the Tango bring. This week, I attempt to gather resources to help understand about early learning and phonemic awareness, as well as what good language and literacy instruction means from birth to age seven. I am off to go hear Gail Gillon on Adapting Phonological Awareness Interventions for Differing Populations.