Learn Your Special Education Laws, Special Education Rights, and Share IEP Goal Ideas

Jan 16
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by Jess

It is most important to first understand the complexity of speech. Speech is a means of communicating through spoken language, and therefore using proper speech by way of language (sounds) we can establish intelligent receptive and expressive communication with others.  

Errors in receptive and expressive language abilities occur when the production of sounds (articulation), and a misappropriation of the system of rules for organizing those sounds are made, hence Phonological disorders will occur.

Speech sound production errors are classified into three types:

1)  Substitutions: when one sound is substituted for another

2) Distortions: when a child attempts the appropriate phoneme but fails to produce it accurately

3) Omissions: signify when a phoneme is omitted and nothing is produced in its place

There are certain errors in speech, which affect specific sounds or classes of sounds that are given a precise name. The following are examples of specific names with the most common being, a lisp. A lisp affects sibilant sounds. A sibilant sound in phonetics is a fricative consonant sound in which the tip or blade of the tongue is brought near the roof of the mouth, and air is pushed past the tongue to make a hissing sound.

There are two common types of lisps:

1) Central lisp: this lisp occurs when the speaker produces the sibilant sound with their tongue between their teeth resulting in a th-like sound

2) Lateral lisp: this lisp occurs when air is directed laterally around the sides of the tongue rather that down the middle. This results in air leakage between the tongue and the molars producing a slushy s or sh sounds.

Speech sound production errors can occur in three positions of a word.

The initial position, which is the first sound of the word. The final position which would be at the end of the word or the medial position which would be anything between the initial and the final position of the word.

Causes of Phonological disorders:   

1) Organic: are disorders that occur as a result form a structural, physiological, sensory or neurological deficit. Some speech sound production errors may be made by:

a) Malocclussion: the misalignment of the teeth or improper alignment of the upper and lower teeth

b) Macroglosia: an enlargement of the tongue

c) Microglosia: a tongue that is smaller than normal developmental size

d) Ankyloglossia: a condition in which the lingual frenum (a small flap of tissue that holds the tongue to the floor of the mouth) is too short or attached too far forward.                 

Other organic conditions such as tongue thrust, hearing impairments, dysarthria, and developmental apraxia of speech (DAS) all contribute to the development and/or ability for proper phonological language.  

2) Functional: are disorders that are not associated with organic conditions; which make it nearly impossible to determine a child with a phonological disorder. Case studies, and research have been made on such conditions where organic elements are ruled out as being a source or error.

Assessments for Phonological Disorders:

In our school setting, it is safe to say that all children in kindergarten level will show some problem in their language skills. This does not necessarily mean they do have a phonological disorder, just that further screening and testing should be considered.

It is critical to decipher at this age exactly what the problem is. This is usually done by a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) during an assessment period. In addition to screenings, a teacher’s referral to an SLP is another important way to distinguish children with phonology problems. Once the SLP has determined that the child may have a phonological disorder, permission from the parents must be obtained in order for the child to be given a diagnostic evaluation. Some of the objectives of a diagnostic evaluation would include: determining if there’s a problem, determining the nature and extent of the disorder, and suggesting methods to remediate the disorder.

Depending on the child’s speech pattern, an SLP may administer the following assessments.

Speech sound inventory: will test each phoneme in the context of a word. Picture naming is most preferable due to the age of the child and their inability to read yet. Here each consonant and consonant cluster is tested. At times, depending on need the SLP may choose to test vowel inventories, as well. Some of the most common speech sound inventory tests include the Goldman-Fristoe Test of Articulation, Photo Articulation Test and the Arizona Articulation proficiency Scale.

Contextual tests: using a picture containing an error sound in the initial position is preceded by a series of 30 pictures ending with a different sound. For each picture pair the student is instructed to say the two words together, so to sound like one big word. This test is referred to as the deep-type tests after the Deep Test of Articulation, (McDonald, 1964). This test will give the SLP a clear sample of error sound as it is preceded and followed by many different phonemes. It will also identify one or more contexts in which the error sound is correctly produced.

Pattern Analysis: is used to determine the presence of patterns that may underlie multiple sound errors. This is an effective way the SLP can identify a number of phonemes as opposed to concentrating on single phoneme errors. Frequently used tests are the Hodson Assessment of Phonological Patterns (Hodson, 2004), and the Kahn-Lewis Phonological Analysis-2 (Kahn & Lewis, 2002).

Each of these tests are rapid and easy to administer; which makes it popular with most SLP’s with large caseloads, and minimal time available to them for testing. Teachers can be an integral part of the evaluation stage by observation and documentation of their student’s communicative behavior. After the screening and the evaluation a treatment plan is put in place for a child with a phonological disorder. In most schools an SLP will see a child twice a week as a pullout for thirty minutes each visit. As a teacher, working closely with an SLP and Administration on a child’s progress plan can make a positive impact on the student’s needs and remediation.

As we have determined, there are on two levels in which a child may have a phonology problem. The first being a motor level and the second on a cognitive level. After the assessment and determining the level of cause a recommendation to the eligibility committee will be made. If given permission to receive services through the district a treatment plan will be put in place for the child. This will then be worked out between the SLP and the teacher. It is also noted that it may be determined that a child could have both motor based and cognitive-linguistic problems.

Direct Treatment of Phonological Disorders

Motor based treatment: suggests that most articulation-phonology treatment programs can be divided into three major stages

1)      Establishment- during this phase, a child will be taught to produce a single phoneme either in isolation or in a syllable. This may include ear-training, auditory stimulation, phonetic placement and/or successive approximation.

2)      Generalization- usually referred to as the carry over phase. The goal of this phase is to enable the child to use the behavior learned in the establishment phase in all words and speaking situations. Here we will se Positive generalization, Context generalization, Linguistic unit generalization, sound and feature generalization and Situation generalization.

3)      Maintenance- the goal here is for the newly acquired sound or pattern to be incorporated as a natural part of a child’s everyday speech. Some SLPs use negative practice during the maintenance phase. During negative practice, a child would be asked to intentionally produce the error sound or sound pattern in order to sharpen the contrast between the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ productions.

It is most critical that teachers and parents alike support active participation in the remediation of a child’s progress. Simple strategic means such as a speech notebook could aide in the goals; activities, progress charts, instructions and comments can assist in the child’s remediation. A teacher should always know the goals of the student’s treatment program. They should be aware of any progress toward those goals, and most importantly the teacher needs to know how he/she can help their student in achieving such goals.

Indirect Treatment of Phonological Disorders

Whole-class language experience- in this approach the SLP will design procedures that will enrich the entire classroom of children, but yet target specific skills for students with phonological disorders. Using this procedure, a child is seen twice a week, once as a pullout, and the second session as a whole class language experience. Specific skills are targeted during the first session. These same skills are then addressed in the second whole class experience. Here again, it is critical for the teacher to be on board with the goals, progress and skills that are being implemented by the SLP to ensure their students’ success.

Communication Centered Instruction (CCI)

CCI consists of practicing speech sounds in pro-social communicative activities in which correct responses are reinforced by natural consequences (Low et al., 1989, p.27)

This practice is ideal for group settings The goal of using this method is that the target sounds are always in words that are part of longer meaningful and relevant utterance.

In March 2004 Jane Iannacconi began teaching Exceptional Students at JFK Middle School in North Miami Beach, FL.  While at JFK, she taught ESE for grades 6-8: Social Studies and Inclusion Math. As a Homeroom teacher for the Emotionally Handicapped population, she began to learn how to understand, and teach children who were Learning Disabled with Varying Exceptionalities on all levels.  For the last three years Jane Iannacconi has taught Special Education for the Jersey City Public School System. Working with these children has been a blessing to Jane. She truly enjoys the diversification of knowledge they provide her, as well as what she has gained personally by teaching them.



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