Posted on 20 March 2014 by Elise Rogan
Recently I reviewed Rhea Paul’s (2001) chapter from “Language Disorders from Infancy through Adolescence” on Intervention at the Language-for-Learning Stage. This chapter looks into the different styles of intervention when working with children with learning difficulties.
From the age of 5-10 years old children make a shift from learning to talk to “talking to learn” (Paul, 2001). This is where higher level language skills are used and applied to what a child is learning in the classroom. Research shows that children who have had difficulties learning language before 5 years, may also have some difficulty managing higher level activities such as: daily and task organisation, creating verbal and written stories, and listening in the classroom (Paul, 2001). These children may require additional support to ensure they continue to learn and grow within the mainstream setting.
Paul suggests some keys to consider in planning intervention for children who are experiencing these difficulties:
1) Transdisciplinary planning: this is where specialists- including teachers, welfare co-ordinators, educational consultants, speech pathologists, psychologists, audiologists, occupational therapists, optometrists- do not work independently on separate areas, but work collaboratively with each other, the child and the parents. Goals and strategies for this can be set out in the child’s Individual Learning Plan. All specialists involved with the child may target their areas of specialty (e.g. speech pathologist works on language skills) but do this in consideration and communication with the other specialists and parents to ensure the “whole child” is cared for.
2) Have curriculum-based intervention: ensure most goals in the Individual Learning Plan are targeted towards the curriculum goals, to ensure the child is receiving support for the daily demands they face in the classroom. In order to achieve this, active communication between the child’s teacher and other specialists is very important. So that classroom routines and activities can be explicitly explained, rehearsed and accomplished with the one-on-one support that the specialist setting (e.g. speech therapy, educational consulting…) is able to provide.
3) Use verbal and written language: where possible activities in sessions should incorporate multiple forms of language skills (e.g. speaking in words and sentences, writing, reading, phonological awareness) so that all areas of language are being developed.
4) Incorporate higher level language: as children grow they are required to use language in more complex forms (e.g. debating, telling stories, role plays etc). This requires children to have to be able to talk about their thought processes, feelings and use language to take other people’s perspectives. This can be difficult for children with language impairments. Therefore we need to help them learn the explicit rules for using language this way, the language structures and strategies to comprehend and monitor this advanced language.
Author: Elise Swallow (Speech Pathologist)
Paul, R. (2001). Language Disorders: From Infancy through Adolescence (2nd ed.). Missouri: Mosby.