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Oral Apraxia and Reading Fluency

Karen Fallon, Ph.D

March 15, 2004



I have a nine year old who was diagnosed and treated for severe oral apraxia from 24 months through age 5 years. He has demonstrated no speech difficulties since that time, passing speech therapy assessment in school annually. He is now in fourth grade


Your instincts concerning the connection between oral speech disorders and literacy skills are astute. The connection between oral and written language is well documented in the literature. For example, Hugh Catts and Alan Kamhi have written several research articles and books that children with speech and language delays are at a higher risk for developing reading and writing disorders/difficulties. There is also research data to suggest a critical ''window'' for remediation of preschool speech and language disorders. In other words, if speech and language difficulties aren't remediated by about age 5 or6 years, the possibility of that child experiencing trouble in learning to read increases.

While this student certainly seems to fit this description, provided that all of his/her speech weaknesses are currently resolved, the primary question isn't what was happening in preschool, but what can we do now? Reading fluency is challenging for many school-age children.

Karen Fallon completed her Ph.D. work at Penn State where she specialized in augmentative and alternative communication and literacy. She is currently an assistant professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania where she teaches courses in language disorders, clinical issues, and AAC. Her research interests are in literacy and the application of literacy teaching and principles to persons who use AAC.

karen fallon

Karen Fallon, Ph.D

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