Communication skills in young children and preschoolers are strong determinants of future academic, social and work skills and success, as several researches have shown including Kaiser, Hancock, Cai, Foster and Hester, 2000; Kaiser, Cai, Hancock and Foster, 2002; Warren & Yoder, 1996. Preschool children with disabilities often have significant deficits in their communication skills, including difficulties in receptive and expressive vocabulary skills and overall impairments in oral communication and language (Shevell et al., 2003). These disabilities can lead to persistent deficits in reading, writing and literacy skills with obvious limitations on the future life of these children.
Researchers found that supporting children with disabilities with early communication and language interventions can be effective, particularly when these interventions occur in the early stages of life, have a strong empirical basis, and take place in natural and inclusive settings (Hemmeter & Kaiser, 1994; Odom & Wolery, 2003; Warren & Yoder, 1996).
As communication skills in general and engagement with spoken and written language in particular are critical for children with disabilities, it is important to provide teachers and parents with tools that are effective and naturally occur in the daily routine (Carlson, Bitterman and Jenkins, 2012; Koppenhaver, Hendrix, & Williams, 2007; Marvin, 1994; Warren & Yoder, 1996).
Tools focused on shared reading of books have been found to have a positive effects on communication and language skills in average learning children but also in children with disabilities (Mol, Bus and de Jong, 2009; WWC, 2015).
In recent years, various researches have been carried out that have compared traditional reading methods (adults read to children who listen passively) with the method of Dialogic Reading in groups of children with disabilities. These researches revealed a clear improvement in the use of vocabulary, in the ability to interact and in the verbal participation of the groups that used Dialogic Reading. For example, Jacqueline A. Towson, Peggy A. Gallagher and Gary E. Bingham in their 2016 research on the effects of Dialogic Reading in children with disabilities showed that children who used Dialogic Reading scored significantly higher in the training of a vocabulary and in the ability to understand and in their expressive communication. This occurred both for words that were specifically targeted during dialogic reading, as well as for additional vocabulary words contained in the chosen children’s book.
Dialogic Reading, in this context, is considered one of the most important instruments precisely because it stimulates and activates multiple abilities in the child at the same time, from the use of verbal and writing skills, to linguistic construction, interaction with others, understanding and reasoning, all the way to behavior.
For further reading:
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