The process and progress of literacy development in young children with physical and speech disabilities: a multi-case study
While much is known about the course of literacy acquisition in typically developing children, little is known about how children who have physical and speech disabilities move through the stages of literacy development or how best to support them when they run into difficulty. Although educators recognize that children who are learning to use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems have difficulty learning to read, we know very little about the factors that impact literacy development for this population during the early school years.This dissertation presents the findings of a qualitative research project that examined the literacy development, over three academic years, of three children with physical and speech disabilities who were learning to use AAC systems. Data were collected through classroom observations, examination of school records and classroom artifacts, a parent questionnaire, and interviews with parents and educators. During data collection and analysis, factors that supported or impeded literacy development were grouped into three broad contexts: classroom and instructional factors, home and family influences, and individual differences or factors within the child.Although the children were performing at grade level in emergent and beginning literacy skills at the start of the study, by the end of the third year they had fallen well-below grade level. All three children developed phonemic awareness and graphophonemic knowledge of phonemes they were unable to articulate; yet, the three children failed to keep pace with their nondisabled peers in literacy acquisition. Factors within all three contexts impacted their literacy development. The children's families provided them with opportunities for literacy experience and had high expectations for their children's success; yet at times literacy concerns were overshadowed by the children's other needs. At school, the quality of instruction the children received was inconsistent. The children required considerable scaffolding and step-by-step instruction in aspects of language and literacy that are often learned with little effort by typically-developing children. In some cases, classroom instruction failed to address the children's academic and literacy needs. The children's individual characteristics impacted their literacy development both positively and negatively. The implications of the research are discussed.
- Education - Seattle