BY: KATIE LOVELADY Specific Language Impairment in the Regular Classroom
Specific Language Impairment Official definition of Specific Language Impairment provided by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Specific Language Disorder (SLI) is a language disorder not caused by any other known underlying neurological, cognitive, emotional or sensory disorder, such as Down Syndrome, Autism or Hearing Impairment. Also referred to as: speech delay, language delay, developmental language disorder, persistent language impairment
What is Specific Language Impairment (SLI)? Type of speech, language, and communication disorder Main area of difficulty is talking and understanding language Most common childhood learning disability More common in males than females
About SLI The real problem with distinguishing children who have SLI from other normal learning children is that SLI children are usually as able and healthy as other children with the exception of enormous difficulty talking and understanding language. Children with SLI all have very individual cases. Some cases are very mild and short-lived, while others are severe and persistent. Most children with SLI are labeled as students with “behavior problems” or students who “do not try.”
Children with SLI may show the following signs: Have difficulty saying what they want to, even though they have ideas Talk in sentences, but be difficult to understand Find it difficult to understand words and long instructions Develop behavior problems Show difficulty learning to read and spell
Statistics show… Studies have shown that in students of 5 years old, SLI affects about 2 children in every classroom (about 7%). It is more common in girls than boys.
What is Your Part? It is often difficult to remember that students with SLI are as their classmates. As professional educators, it our responsibility to act as advocates for children with SLI, doing everything in our power to make their learning experiences meaningful.
Be Proactive in Your Classroom Provide a variety of visual support systems to help with understanding Timetables on the wall, targets shown on the whiteboard, picture cards and wordbooks Present your information in a variety of ways Include the use of real objects, practical activities, pictures, and videos
Be Proactive in Your Classroom Lesson plans that include explicit opportunities to build speaking and listening skills for all children Incorporate therapy goals for individual students Present directions and instructions in a variety of ways and allow time for students to process them Have a Speech Language Pathologist speak to the classroom staff Explain SLI and what it means for a child in your school
Make Adjustments When Necessary A part of being proactive when teaching in classrooms with children with SLI is the ability to make adjustments when the needs arise. Areas where adjustments can be made are as follows: Planning Teaching Assessment Environment Resources
Adjustments in Planning Plan with others speech language pathologists, AVTs, special education staff, year level teams and subject area teams to incorporate the priorities for the student Consider the IEP as a way of prioritizing adjustments needed to access the curriculum Example: communication goal student to ask for help from peers as well as the teacher Make instruction and activities multimodal use as much visual and kinesthetic as possible
Adjustments in Planning Directly teach routines and structures of the school and classroom. Plan access to rewarding activities during the day.
Adjustments in Teaching Use teamwork for task completion Provide a range of responsibilities within the student team Example: recorder, designer, store person, encourager, researcher, explainer and speaker Provide an outline of what is to be learned focus on key concepts Teach use of organizers color coding, pictorial labels, visual timetables and sequences, now/later charts.
Adjustments in Teaching Reduce the amount and complexity of materials where appropriate break into small, achievable steps. Increase the opportunities to practice new skills and concepts teaching younger child, demonstrating to other adults, practicing on the computer with a peer Use available human resources adults & peers Provide additional modelling and concrete examples.
Adjustments in Teaching Do not assume understanding of spoken instructions. Teach the use of diaries and checklists to support sequencing and completing tasks. Orient student to topic before commencing instruction. Teach the vocabulary of instruction draw, underline, circle, analyze, brainstorm, classify, compare
Adjustments in Assessment Collect annotated work samples over time. Use pictures to support text diagrams, flow charts, and timelines Use alternative communication system to demonstrate student learning Clearly identify assessment goals before beginning a unit of work Allow students some capacity to negotiate some aspects of criterion-based assessments
Adjustments in Environment Reduce distractions auditory, physical, movement Provide space to enable flexible learning areas focus activity, quiet and listening areas Provide pictorial rule reminder charts, and book and storage labels Provide space for students to work quietly with an adult volunteer or aide
Adjustments in Resources Provide a range of source materials at various levels readers, magazines, posters Use computers to provide additional practice of concepts and skills Create resources with symbol/visual support using specialized software or digital photos Use Assistive Technology text to speech, word prediction, visual organizers etc.