Exploratory study : exploring the effectiveness of a literacy-based intervention with children with language impairments
Gutknecht, Naomi M.
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Research points clearly to the need for all concerned stakeholders to adopt a preventative approach while intervening with children who are at-risk for future reading disabilities. Research has indicated also that a particular sub-group of children at-risk for reading impairments include preschool children with language impairments (Catts, 1993). Preschool children with language impairments may have difficulties with emergent literacy skills - important prerequisite skills necessary for successful formal reading. Only in the past decade have researchers begun to study the effects of emergent literacy intervention on preschool children with language impairments. As such, the current study continues this investigation of how to effectively implement an emergent literacy therapy aimed at supporting preschool children with language impairments. In addition to this, the current study explores emergent literacy intervention within an applied clinical setting. The setting, presents a host of methodological and theoretical challenges - challenges that will advance the field of understanding children within naturalistic settings. This exploratory study included thirty-eight participants who were recruited from Speech Services Niagara, a local preschool speech and language program. Using a between-group pre- and posttest design, this study compared two intervention approaches - an experimental emergent literacy intervention and a traditional language intervention. The experimental intervention was adopted from Read It Again! (Justice, McGinty, Beckman, & Kilday, 2006) and the traditional language intervention was based on the traditional models of language therapy typically used in preschool speech and language models across Ontario. 5 Results indicated that the emergent literacy intervention was superior to the ,t..3>~, ~\., ;./h traditional language therapy in improving the children's alphabet knowledge, print and word awareness and phonological awareness. Moreover, results revealed that children with more severe language impairments require greater support and more explicit instruction than children with moderate language impairments. Another important finding indicated that the effects of the preschool emergent literacy intervention used in this study may not be sustainable as children enter grade one. The implications of this study point to the need to support preschool children with language impairments with intensive emergent literacy intervention that extends beyond preschool into formal educational settings.