Down's Syndrome children: whole-word or SP?

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Susan Godsland
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Down's Syndrome children: whole-word or SP?

Post by Susan Godsland » Fri May 30, 2008 1:56 pm

In today's TES is a short article about teaching Down's Syndrome children to read. That they need to start with pure whole-word memorisation is stated as fact. No empirical evidence-based research is referenced to back up this statement. Of course there may be some, but that none is given could indicate that it's lacking, or perhaps it's just lazy reporting.

Learning words by sight, not sound, is helping children with Down syndrome
Children with Down syndrome need to start learning to read in a different way from others. Whereas the typically developing child will learn their first language from listening to and imitating speech, children with Down syndrome learn better by the visual route: seeing the word on the page and understanding its meaning. Although they can progress to learning by the phonic method, they should not start with it.
http://www.tes.co.uk/2625185

In contrast, there is this small research study. The children were given whole-words to memorise as part of the mixture which included synthetic phonics. I wonder what the results would have been if they had used a pure SP approach?

Phonological Intervention Programme for Children with Down Syndrome
It is well known that children’s early reading development depends on letter sound knowledge and phonological awareness (an ability to reflect on speech sounds in words). Our research with children with Down syndrome (DS) has shown that most children know many letter sounds and have some awareness of speech sounds. However, few children use these skills when they see new words.
Aim of the intervention study
Our overall aim was to improve the children’s reading skills by training phonological (sound) awareness, letter knowledge and speech sound production, linking this through to reading experience.
The Programme
The Phonological Intervention Programme builds on two existing programmes: Jolly Phonics and Reading Intervention.
This study has shown that :
• Children with DS benefit from a structured and intensive phonological intervention programme that combines work on letter-sound knowledge, sound awareness, speech production and whole word recognition in the context of reading books.
http://www.york.ac.uk/res/crl/CRL-DSInt ... ER2005.pdf

The researchers Cossu, Rossini and Marshall found that Italian Down's syndrome children could 'read' quite competently having been taught the transparent sound-symbol correspondences of the Italian alphabet code but they lacked comprehension of what they read.

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Post by Susan Godsland » Tue Jun 03, 2008 12:57 pm

A new programme 'Bearing Away' is a basic phonics programme for pupils with complex learning difficulties.

www.prometheantrust.org/bearingaway.htm

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Post by maizie » Wed Jun 04, 2008 10:20 pm

As they get older their speech usually improves particularly with good SALT and they become able to make more use of phonics.
But doesn't a SALT programme place emphasis on teaching the pronunciation of discrete phonemes? In which case, wouldn't 't teaching SP complement the SALT programme?

This 'story' was posted on another forum. not concerning a DS child, I know, but a child with severe verbal dyspraxia:

SP and a verbal dyspraxic child

Scroll down to the last post on the page.

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Post by g.carter » Wed Jun 04, 2008 11:16 pm

last post of p.1....excellent, thanks Maizie. I wonder if poster is still in touch with the S & L (?) person who has introduced Jolly Phonics into other schools. It would be great to hear more on this.

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Down's

Post by MonaMMcNee » Tue Jun 10, 2008 6:54 pm

My son Tim has Down's (msic).
He could read and spell CVC words at age 7. Progress stopped totally on Ladybird, for two years. I then untrained started him on Royal Road (a much steper programme than the Step I now use) in 1970 and he just walked it. 18 months later he could read and has been reading ever since.
That is why I am concerned about poor reading today, for anybody.

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Post by elsy » Tue Jun 10, 2008 7:11 pm

The speech and language support that our children receive works on phonemes in speech, not in isolation. As marylennox says, the order is that of the typical development of phonemes in spoken language.

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Post by g.carter » Wed Aug 13, 2008 11:15 pm

Today met up with colleague teaching both in Special Needs School in Middle East and privately. She has over 20 pupils and uses Fiona Nevola's Sound Reading System and Bri books with all the children on her books. She's taught many children with Down's Syndome to read - no problem with age. She's attended lecture given by UK leader in the field who believes that such childen can only learn via the Whole Language route. Face to face discussion and correspondence has fallen on deaf ears.

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Deaf ears

Post by MonaMMcNee » Thu Aug 14, 2008 12:59 am

Well, until the Rose Report, the whole education establishment, top to bottom, had deaf ears. Some are still clogged with wax !

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