How can a speech language pathologist help with my child’s reading and writing?

Some of my fondest memories as a child were going to the library and leaving with a stack of books, reading these books as quickly as I could and escaping to a new and different world.

Then I became a mother and wow, sharing books with my infant, then toddler, and then much later laughing and crying over our all time favorite Harry Potter – I have always felt and truly believed there is something magical about reading and exploring the world through print.

When I became a speech-language pathologist, I knew I was interested in reading and teaching children to read and write…and it is true that our field had long accepted that SLPs have the knowledge and skills to provide assessment and intervention in the area of reading and writing. From the first literacy client, an 18 year old who told me for the first time in his life, when he was bored, he chose to read a book! (a truly monumental moment). To most recently, a 13 year old who looked at me with wide eyes and said, “I have never spelled that word correctly before.”  I have felt first hand the importance of the SLP’s role in reading and writing.

But there is so much confusion for parents who are looking for professionals to help their child who has difficulty with reading and writing. This is because there are so many professionals who are reading experts – who do you go to when your child struggles? Teachers, literacy coaches, reading specialists, psychologists, tutors?

Now, I know our professional title doesn’t help much…I constantly hear,  “You work on reading and writing? But you are a SPEECH-LANGUAGE pathologist – how does that make you an expert in reading and writing?” The answer is a resounding, YES and we definitely are. Here’s why:

Reading consists of two processes 1. Decoding and 2. Comprehension. When we decode we are doing just that – taking out our internal “decoding ring” and deciphering the code (or letters) of English and matching those letters and words to meaning (decoding). Then, you take all these words and put them together to create pictures in your mind to understand what you have read (comprehension).

So for YOU as a proficient reader, I could read aloud this blog, or you could read it and your “decoder ring” works so powerfully – you are understanding it just the same.

Our brains are amazing, we take those sounds into words – words into sentences and sentences into ideas.

So, why are SLPs especially qualified to provide assessment and therapy in reading and writing?

We understand this process of decoding and comprehension because this process is all about language. And SLPs are definitely experts in language.

Another reason we are especially qualified is that the children we work with are in desperate need of assistance in reading and writing (you read that right- children with speech and language delays are the highest at risk group for reading failure!). We get how these kiddos work and we understand the processes needed to be an effective reader and writer.

Finally, SLPs are excellent providers of reading and writing intervention because SLPs are trained diagnosticians. We look at the child as an individual. We assess for the underlying causes and design therapy that will target the specific needs of each child.

There is no other professional who is accredited and certified that can provide both assessment and intervention in reading with expertise and understanding of disability as an SLP.

SO as you gear up to address your child’s reading and writing needs. Think about contacting a qualified SLP in your area.

I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book.”

-JK Rowling

If you are interested in an assessment for Dyslexia or other related reading/writing difficulties at Kid Talk please contact us via phone (952.443.9888) or e-mail (!  We would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have!