What is my role as an SLP related to literacy, and how does it differ from what other professionals do?
The ASHA Practice Portal document on written language disorders includes the following statement: “Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) play a critical and direct role in the development of literacy in children and adolescents and in the diagnosis, assessment, and treatment of written language disorders, including dyslexia” (ASHA, n.d.a.). The SLP’s training includes knowledge about spoken language, which is the foundation of written language development. Thus, SLPs should be involved in preventative activities, such as collaborating with classroom teachers to provide lessons for all children in early literacy skills, such as print knowledge, phonological and phonemic awareness, narrative, and vocabulary (Justice & Kaderavek, 2004; Kaderavek & Justice, 2004; Terrell & Watson, 2018). The SLP’s role continues throughout the school-age years, focused on services for students with communication disorders when the disorder has an impact on the educational success of the student. Collaboration with teachers continues to be important to support linguistic elements of the curriculum for students with disabilities and those at risk for failure (ASHA, 2010b).
While classroom teachers take on the role of Tier 1 instruction in reading and writing, specialized literacy professionals can provide individualized support to teachers and students to address the needs of students with literacy difficulties. The International Literacy Association (2015) published a research brief that describes and distinguishes the roles of school-based literacy professionals, including reading/literacy specialists, literacy coaches, and literacy coordinators/supervisors. The SLP may collaborate with some or all of these professionals in providing literacy intervention. Roles may vary by setting or even by district or individual school, depending on which professionals are available (ASHA, n.d.a).
This Ask the Expert is an excerpt from the course, 20Q: The Importance of Explicit Literacy Instruction in Early Elementary Grades.