Children with learning disabilities

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:

Bellon, M. L., Ogletree, B. T., Harn, W. E. (2000). Repeated storybook reading as a language intervention for children with autism: A case study on the application of scaffolding. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 15, 52-55. 

Carlson, E., Bitterman, A., Jenkins, F. (2012). Home literacy environment and its role in the achievement of preschoolers with disabilities. The Journal of Special Education, 46, 67-77. 

Cohen, J. (1992). A power primer. Psychological Bulletin, 112, 155-159. 

Cole, K. N., Dale, P. S. (1986). Direct language instruction and interactive language instruction with language delayed preschool children: A comparison study. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 29, 206-217. 

Colmar, S. (2011). A book reading intervention with mothers of children with language difficulties. Australian Journal of Early Childhood, 36, 104-112. 

Colmar, S. (2014). A parent-based book-reading intervention for disadvantaged children with language difficulties. Child Language Teaching & Therapy, 30, 79-90. 

Crain-Thorenson, C., Dale, P. S. (1999). Enhancing linguistic performance: Parents and teachers as book reading partners for children with language delays. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 19, 28-39. 

Dale, P. S., Crain-Thorenson, C., Notari-Syverson, A., Cole, K. (1996). Parent-child book reading as an intervention technique for young children with language delays. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 16, 213-235. 

D’Alonzo, K. T. (2004). The Johnson-Neyman procedure as an alternative to ANCOVA. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 26, 804-812. 

Dunn, L. M., Dunn, L. M. (2007). Peabody picture vocabulary test (4th ed.). Minneapolis, MN: Pearson Assessments. 

Ezell, H. K., Justice, L. M., Parsons, D. (2000). Enhancing the emergent literacy skills of preschoolers with communication disorders: A pilot investigation. Child Language Teaching & Therapy, 16, 121-140. 

Fleury, V. P. (2015). Engaging children with autism in shared book reading: Strategies for parents. Young Exceptional Children, 18(1), 3-16. 

Fleury, V. P., Miramontez, S. H., Hudson, R. F., Schwartz, I. S. (2013). Promoting active participation in book reading for preschoolers with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A preliminary study. Child Language Teaching & Therapy, 30, 273-288. 

Hargrave, A. C., Senechal, M. (2000). A book reading intervention with preschool children who have limited vocabularies: The benefits of regular reading and dialogic reading. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 15, 75-90. 

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Kaiser, A. P., Cai, X., Hancock, T. B., Foster, E. M. (2002). Teacher-reported behavior problems and language delays in boys and girls enrolled in Head Start. Behavioral Disorders, 28, 23-39. 

Kaiser, A. P., Hancock, T. B., Cai, X., Foster, E. M., Hester, P. P. (2000). Parent-reported behavior problems and language delays in boys and girls enrolled in Head Start classrooms. Behavioral Disorders, 26, 26-41. 

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Koppenhaver, D. A., Erickson, K. A., Skotko, B. G. (2001). Supporting communication of girls with Rett syndrome and their mothers in storybook reading. International Journal of Disability, Development and Education, 48(4), 395-410. 

Koppenhaver, D. A., Hendrix, M. P., Williams, A.R. (2007). Toward evidence-based literacy interventions for children with severe and multiple disabilities. Seminars in Speech and Language, 28(1), 79-89. 

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Lonigan, C. J., Whitehurst, G. J. (1998). Relative efficacy of parent and teacher involvement in a shared-reading intervention for preschool children from low-income backgrounds. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 13, 263-290. 

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Marvin, C. (1994). Home literacy experiences of preschool children with single and multiple disabilities. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 14, 436-454. 

McConnell, S., Bradfield, T., Wackerle-Hollman, A., Rodriquez, M. (2012). Individual Growth and Development Indicators of Early Literacy (IGDIs-EL). St. Paul, MN: Early Learning Labs. 

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Mol, S. E., Bus, A. G., de Jong, M. T. (2009). Interactive book reading in early education: A tool to stimulate print knowledge as well as oral language. Review of Educational Research, 79, 979-1007. 

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Ziolkowski, R. A., Goldstein, H. (2008). Effects of an embedded phonological awareness intervention during repeated book reading on preschool children with language delays. Journal of Early Intervention, 31, 67-90.