Classroom activity and children with disabilities

Dialogic reading is an evidence-based practice for preschool children who are typically developing or at-risk. However, there is limited research to evaluate if dialogic reading has similar positive effects on the language and preliteracy skills of preschool children with disabilities.

Communication skills in toddlers and preschoolers account for a disproportionate amount of variance in their later academic, social, and work skills (Kaiser, Hancock, Cai, Foster, & Hester, 2000; Kaiser, Cai, Hancock, & Foster, 2002; Warren & Yoder, 1996). Preschool children with disabilities often have significant deficits in their communication skills, including weaknesses in receptive and expressive vocabulary skills and overall communication and oral language deficits (Shevell et al., 2003). These weaknesses can lead to persistent deficits in reading, writing, and preliteracy skills (Marvin, 1994; NICHD, 2005). Researchers have found that providing early communication and language interventions to young children with disabilities can be effective, particularly when the interventions occur early in life, have a strong empirical base, and take place in natural and inclusive settings (Hemmeter & Kaiser, 1994; Odom & Wolery, 2003; Warren & Yoder, 1996). Since communication skills in general, and engagement with print and language specifically, are critical for children with disabilities, it is important to provide interventions to teachers and parents that are both effective and occur naturally within the daily routine (Carlson, Bitterman, & Jenkins, 2012; Koppenhaver, Hendrix, & Williams, 2007; Marvin, 1994; Warren & Yoder, 1996). Interventions that center around shared book reading have been found to positively effect the communication and language skills in children with both typical development and those with disabilities (Mol, Bus, & de Jong, 2009; WWC, 2015).

A recent study by Jacqueline Towson, “Dialogic Reading: Language and Preliteracy Outcomes for Young Children with Disabilities.” Dissertation, Georgia State University, 2015 highlights there were positive trends indicating more growth for the students receiving dialogic reading as compared to regular reading. The study adds to the diverse literature on the positive effects of using dialogic reading to promote the language skills of young children with disabilities by extending the population to students with more significant disabilities and in implementing the intervention in both inclusive and self-contained classrooms.