Dyslexia and Speech Sounds

child's earFor many parents, one of the confusing issues regarding dyslexia is understanding the importance of speech sounds. While dyslexic children have difficulty reading words, their speech is often perfectly normal — so where do speech sounds come into play?

In fact, awareness of speech sounds (“phonological awareness”) is one of the underpinnings of reading and spelling — and an essential focus of the structured literacy treatment that dyslexic children need. (See my recent post on the Orton-Gillingham Approach for additional information.)

Children with dyslexia need to be taught to recognize speech sounds. It is not something they “get” intuitively or “pick up” from reading or speech that they hear at home or in the classroom. For example, a child can be shown that the word “chip” has three speech sounds (ch-i-p) whereas the word “trip” has four (t-r-i-p), and if you remove the /t/ from “trip” you get the word “rip.” Once children learn to isolate speech sounds, they can then begin to blend them and associate them with letters or symbols — the basics of reading.

As one parent, Regina, said of her child’s experience with Lexercise, “The Isolator game has helped her make a lot of improvements in recognizing the different sounds in words. It was difficult for her to pick out individual sounds at first but she is getting better. The games force her to slow down and concentrate on what she is hearing.”

The Lexercise Screener tests a child’s ability to read simple words and to “de-code” words made up of nonsense syllables (speech sounds). To test your child’s reading ability, try the free online Lexercise Screener now.

I welcome your comments and invite your questions at Info@Lexercise.com or 1-919-747-4557.

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Sandie Barrie Blackley, MA/CCC

MA/CCC - Cofounder and CKO

Sandie is a speech-language pathologist with more than 30 years of experience in the private practice sector. She is Visiting Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences & Disorders at University of North Carolina Greensboro, and founder/owner of the Language & Learning Clinic, PLLC, a private practice in Elkin, NC, and Greensboro, NC, specializing in communication disorders, including disorders of reading and written language.