Research has confirmed that reading and spelling difficulties are closely related to a child’s speech and oral language development as well as their auditory processing skills. Because of this relationship, it is very important that the underlying reasons for reading and spelling difficulties are fully explored before the intervention approach is chosen.
Comprehensive assessment of a child’s speech and oral language development ensures that intervention targets the child's specific areas of weakness, while also taking account of their strengths. This approach means that children engage more actively in intervention because the tasks are "just right" - children don't have to start at a level that's too low for them and similarly they're not expected to do activities that are too hard. This results in much greater efficiency in treatment.
A child’s difficulty with speech and language development can be obvious from a young age or can be more subtle and problems might only surface when the child is learning to read and spell. Underlying language processing difficulties can show up in a variety of ways. For example:
- Being later to talk and then having ongoing difficulty saying speech sounds accurately
- Having difficulty pronouncing longer words
- Having difficulty with word-finding (knowing the name of something but struggling to retrieve a word that they know)
- Experiencing problems remembering spoken language (for example difficulty remembering instructions, struggling to keep up with what the teacher is saying)