SpeechPathology.com Phone: 800-242-5183


Therapia Staffing Careers

An Evidence-Based Emergent Literacy Curriculum for Students with Significant Developmental Disabilities, Including Those Who Are Nonverbal

An Evidence-Based Emergent Literacy Curriculum for Students with Significant Developmental Disabilities, Including Those Who Are Nonverbal
AAC-AT Consultant, Linda Schreiber
March 10, 2008
Share:

Expectations of students with significant disabilities, especially in relation to literacy, are changing. Thanks to No Child Left Behind legislation, this population of students is being given the chance to experience literacy that goes beyond the learning of sight words. Speech-language pathologists can play an active role in helping to advocate for this population by supporting the paradigm shift. New evidence-based curriculums are being developed and speech-language pathologists need to be cognizant of the shift in curriculum. This paper describes an exciting new curriculum for teaching emerging literacy skills, including phonemic awareness, to students who are nonverbal (or verbal) and who have significant disabilities.

A group of researchers out of North Carolina have developed a literacy curriculum for this overlooked population. Early Literacy Skills Builder (ELSB) is a scientifically based early literacy intervention program for children with moderate-to-severe developmental disabilities, including autism. It is written for children who have not yet acquired phonemic awareness or print awareness. ELSB is unique in that the curriculum has been written so students can respond verbally or nonverbally. Students actively participate in activities such as shared story reading (e.g., saying a repeated story line) so understanding and comprehension is maximized in the curriculum. Speech-language pathologists should have great interest in this curriculum because one of the outcomes of the research on the effectiveness of the curriculum is impressive communication and language growth in participating students.

The purpose of ELSB is to provide new opportunities for this population of students to learn to read. The curriculum builds on the science of reading; it is based on evidence of elements of instruction found effective for students without disabilities or who have mild disabilities. Students who advance through ELSB are ready for instruction in a beginning reading curriculum. Students who do not master all levels still acquire literacy skills for lifelong use, including learning new vocabulary, gaining meaning from stories that are read, and recognizing words and phrases.

ELSB is based on analyses of published research on reading acquisition. The National Reading Panel (NRP; 2000) reported evidence that phonemic awareness, alphabetic principle, vocabulary development, and comprehension are among the essential components of a successful reading program. In addition, Dr. Diane Browder and colleagues (Browder, Wakeman, Spooner, Ahlgrim-Delzell, & Algozzine, 2006) directed an analysis of 128 studies on teaching early reading to students with significant disabilities. They found that most research with this population focused on the learning of sight words using the methods of systematic prompting and fading; the studies showed that students with significant developmental disabilities do acquire sight words through a systematic method of instruction. According to Browder et al. (2006), sight words are only one part of reading and most students would not be expected to learn to read through sight word instruction alone, especially based on the research compiled by the National Reading Panel (2000). Most students with significant disabilities will need instruction to develop phonemic awareness in the early grades due to their developmental delay (Browder et al., 2006). The curriculum is based on the premise that it is not too late to begin promoting phonemic awareness skills for this population at ages 5-10; rather, the early elementary grades may be the best time to develop the skills that can bridge to reading by later grades.

ELSB accommodates the research from both meta-analyses by including the NRP components and direct and systematic instruction techniques. The curriculum is written by a team of experts in research, reading, assessment, curriculum, and adaptive techniques. Authors Diane Browder, Susan Gibbs, Lynn Ahlgrim-Delzell, Ginevra Courtade, and Angel Lee wrote this language-rich curriculum specifically for children ages 5 to 10 who have moderate-to-severe developmental disabilities. It was written to meet the needs of children whether they are verbal or nonverbal.


aac at consultant

AAC-AT Consultant


linda schreiber

Linda Schreiber



Related Courses

Supporting Children of Poverty: Special Considerations for the School-Based SLP
Presented by Angie Neal, MS, CCC-SLP
Video
Course: #8735Level: Introductory1 Hour
This course will provide SLPs with a critically important view of how and why poverty has a tremendous impact on both language learning and academic success. Key strategies for working with school teams and conducting therapy will also be shared.

Developing Authors: Designing Opportunities in AAC Using the Science of Writing
Presented by Janet Sturm, PhD, CCC-SLP, BCS-CL
Video
Course: #9787Level: Advanced1 Hour
This is Part 1 of the 5-part series, Applying the Science of Reading, Writing, and Oral Language for Students Who Use AAC. The ability to write has enormous power, especially for a student who uses augmentative/alternative communication (AAC). This course describes how students who use AAC can become authors when systematic, sequential and explicit instruction is anchored in the science of writing, and discusses the components and benefits of this type of reading/writing curriculum.

“Spelling” It Out for Students Who Use AAC: Applying Evidence-Based Practices
Presented by Jillian McCarthy, PhD, CCC-SLP
Video
Course: #9788Level: Advanced1 Hour
This is Part 3 of the 5-part series, Applying the Science of Reading, Writing, and Oral Language for Students Who Use AAC. The ability to spell opens academic, social, and employment doors for children with complex communication needs (CCN) who use or benefit from augmentative-alternative communication (AAC). This course discusses evidence-based assessment and intervention ideas to help students with CCN who use AAC become “spellers,” and broaden their overall communication skills.

Supporting Literacy Development through Robust Language Intervention for Students who Use AAC
Presented by Carole Zangari, PhD, CCC-SLP, BCS-CL
Video
Course: #97891 Hour
This is Part 4 of the 5-part series, Applying the Science of Reading, Writing, and Oral Language for Students Who Use AAC. Improving the linguistic foundation of students who use AAC supports the development of strong literacy skills. Key intervention strategies and guidelines for robust language intervention for AAC users are discussed along with examples demonstrating their application to various language skills.

Language Literacy Learning for Diverse Students
Presented by Carol Westby, PhD, CCC-SLP, Elizabeth Biersgreen, MS, CCC-SLP
Video
Course: #8767Level: Advanced1 Hour
This course will (1) describe the nature of a "multiliteracies" approach to language literacy learning and development of self-identity, and (2) demonstrate how this methodology has been implemented with elementary school-age refugee children, English Learners, and children with complex language impairments. This course is presented in joint partnership with the American Board of Child Language and Language Disorders (ABCLLD).