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Reading and Dyslexia


During the early stages of a child’s speech and language development, reading skills are already being implemented. Speech, language, and the awareness of sounds are the building blocks to an easy transition into reading. Between the ages of three and five, children are usually able to rhyme as well as match sounds to letters. Being aware of the various sounds that words are comprised of is an important skill for reading that some children have more trouble developing. Reading fluency is a key skill that simply means being able to “read like you speak.” Fluent readers understand what they are reading, while doing so with speed, accuracy and appropriate expression.

At Granite Bay Speech, we equip both parents and children with the right tools to practice and improve reading techniques in and out of therapy sessions. Reading skills are the foundation for academic success. Our clients are taught to retrieve these critical tools to easily achieve their literacy and fluency goals.

Literacy is one of the most important factors contributing to academic and economic success. Literacy supports successful social interactions.

The following are signs that a child has trouble with reading and may require some intervention:

  • Difficulty recognizing and remembering sight words. Sight words are common words that children should immediately recognize as soon as he or she sees them (who, the, he were, etc.)
  • Inaccurate letter-sound blending, which is building words from individual sounds (“m – o – m → mom”)
  • Trouble distinguishing between familiar-looking letters and words (g/q; b/d; p/b)
  • Lack of confidence and interest in reading

The process of reading is highly dependent upon a child’s language skills. Speech-Language Pathologists play a “critical and direct role in the development of literacy” (ASHA, 2001). The Speech-Language Pathologists at Granite Bay Speech are here to support your child’s reading skills. We analyze a child’s needs, as well as their strengths, and develop an individualized treatment plan.

What is Reading Fluency?

Reading fluency is defined as the ability to read accurately, smoothly and with expression. Fluent readers recognize words automatically, without struggling over decoding issues. They sound natural, as if they’re speaking. Fluency is important because it bridges between word recognition and comprehension.

How Can I Help Improve My Child's Reading Fluency?

  1. Model Fluent Reading: Choose text that is easy to understand and read it effortlessly and with expression to model what fluent reading.
  2. Talk about Punctuation: Explain what we do when we see punctuation marks.
    • Raising pitch at the end of sentences with question marks
    • Pausing when there is a period
    • Increasing loudness or using a higher pitch with exclamation marks, etc
  3. Practice Having your Child Read the Text Back to You: Model fluency by reading text to your child, then have your child read the same text out loud back to you. Provide praise and read words they struggle with so they become fluent readers.
  4. Read the Text with Your Child: Reading a text at the same time as your child (in unison) is another way to encourage reading fluency. If your child is unable to, read the text or if the text is too difficult then choose an easier reading level.
  5. Have your Child Read Using Recorded Books Two Times: During the first trial your child only listens to the recorded book and points to the words as they silently read. The next time, encourage your child to read along. Stop the recording periodically to provide brain breaks.


Dyslexia is a term used to characterize a person’s inability to read printed words in the presence of normal intelligence and adequate reading instruction (Lyon Shaywitz & Shaywitz, 2003). There are many misconceptions associated with Dyslexia, however, dyslexia always involves an aspect of language skills which have not been mastered. Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) are language specialists trained to rehabilitate reading skills when a person suffers a brain injury. This specialized training prepares SLPs to address the neurological processes that prevent a child from learning to read. Children who struggle with learning to read benefit from the advanced skills of our therapists at Granite Bay Speech. Individuals with Dyslexia may display challenges with vision, printing, auditory processing, speech sound errors, memory, and sequencing skills. Granite Bay Speech SLPs will screen and may refer you to the right specialist if a vision component is suspected.

Individuals with Dyslexia may struggle with:
Accurate and/or fluent word recognition
Decoding words

You may notice that a child with dyslexia understands text when it is read out loud to him, however, has difficulty understanding the content if he reads it by himself. For example, a child with dyslexia may be able to answer comprehension questions about a grade-level story read aloud to him, but may struggle if he reads the story himself.

You may also notice that children with dyslexia do not develop phonological awareness skills, as quickly as their peers. Phonological awareness skills include rhyming, segmenting and blending.

Visit our Therapy Apps page to find creative apps that will improve your child’s speech and language development, while also targeting reading fluency and comprehension!

Phonological Awareness

Phonological awareness refers to a set of skills children develop when they begin to understand how words are made up of individual sounds and those sounds can be manipulated and changed to create different words. As this skill develops, children become aware of how different letters and sounds create the words that we speak, read, and write.

Phonological Awareness skills include rhyming, alliteration, segmenting words into smaller units, combining separate sounds into words, and understanding that words are made up of sounds that can be represented by written letters.

At Granite Bay Speech, we align our therapy sessions to include specific techniques to develop phonological awareness skills. Strong phonological skills form the foundation for future reading and spelling success. At Granite Bay Speech we provide each client the specific tools they need to reach their reading potential.

How to Work on Phonological Awareness Skills with your Child


  • Read rhyming books together and point out the words that rhyme.
  • When you hear two words that rhyme, point them out to the child by using this script (fill in whatever words you’re using): “cat, hat. Hey those rhyme!  They both end with “at”.  Listen, cat, hat.”
  • Help your child come up with lists of words that rhyme, such as hat, cat, sat, mat. See how many words you can find that rhyme with each one.
  • Ask your child if two words rhyme. Ex: Dog, Cat.

Syllable Blending

  • Say the syllables of a word with pauses in between, like “um….bre…lla” and ask your child to put the syllables back together and tell you the word it makes.
    • Start with 2-syllable words and work your way up to longer words.
    • If your child is having trouble, try combining two or more syllables together, like “um…brella” or “umbre….lla”. Then, work toward separating them back out.

Identifying Final Sounds

  • Point out what sound words end with.
    • Ex: Bat ends with the “t” sound.  Say “listen, baT.”  Use words that are meaningful to the child like their name or favorite toys.
  • Create a list of words that all end with the same sound: “bat, hat, boat”, etc. Practice distinguishing differences and similarities between beginning and ending sounds.
  • Ask your child to name words that end the same way as another word: “what’s a word that ends with the same sound as cat?”
  • Ask your child to tell you what sound a word ends with.
    • Ex: What sound ends with the word dog, car, dad?

Segmenting Words

  • Demonstrate segmenting a word into its individual sounds.
    • Ex: for “cat” you would say “c..a…t”.  Think about sounds and not spelling. For change, you would say “ch…a…n…” not “c..h…a..n…g…e”.
    • Start with short words first. Start with consonant-vowel (CV) words like “to” and “go” or try vowel-consonant (VC) words like “up” and “eat”.
  • Avoid using letter names when you work on identification of sounds. Sounds need to be practiced until listening skills are mastered. Letter names “S”, “Tee”, “Bee” are practiced after a child says the sound for a letter.
  • Segment out a word for your child and then have him repeat it back.

Manipulating Sounds in Words

  • Ask your child to tell you what would happen if you took a letter off of a word.
    • Ex: say what would be left if we took the “p” off of “pot”?
  • Ask the child to tell you what would happen if you switched one letter out for another one.
    • Ex: What would happen if we changed the “p” in “pot” to a “t”?

Segmenting Words in Syllables

  • Have your child practice clapping out syllables with you as you segment a word.
    • Ex: Umbrella –>  Um…bre…lla.  (clap once for each syllable).
    • Practice doing other actions besides clapping while segmenting words. You can stomp, jump, etc.
  • Segment/clap out a word for your child and then have him repeat it back to you.
  • Have your child practice clapping/segmenting words by themselves.
  • Have your child count the number of syllables after clapping it out.

Alliteration (Same Beginning Sounds)

  • Point out to your child what sound words start with.
    • Ex: Ball starts with the “buh” sound (buh..buh..ball)
  • Help your child come up with a list of words that all start with the same sound: “ball, boy, bat”, etc.
  • Ask your child to come up with a word that starts the same way as another word
    • Ex: a word that starts with the same sound as ball
  • Ask your child to tell you what sound a word starts with.

Sound Blending

  • Start with short words like you did with segmenting.
  • Separate the sounds out of short words and say each sound of the word separately with a pause in between (say the sounds you hear, not the letters that spell it)
    • Ex: c…a…t,   b…oa….t,   u…p,   s…m…e…ll

Letter Sound Correspondences

Practice these higher level auditory skills after the previous skills are mastered.

  • Talk about what sounds are made by which letters.
    • Ex: The letter b makes the “buh” sound
  • Point out letters in your child’s books. Say what those letters are called and tell the your child what sounds they make.
  • Ask your child to tell you what sound a certain letter makes
    • Ex: What sound does the letter “b” make?
  • Ask your child to tell you what letter makes a certain sound
    • Ex: What letter makes the “buh” sound?

I didn't realize speech pathologists have extensive training in dyslexia. Nancy's own adult children have dyslexia. Nancy combines her clinical background, current research, and personal experience as a mom, to recommend the best approach for your child. She's personable, enthusiastic, caring, extremely knowledgeable and practical. That's as good as it gets in my book!

Lisa B.'s difficult to ascertain which of her many assets is more outstanding, whether it be her command of case studies, her skill in devising the right kind of therapy, her willingness to go the extra mile for her clients, or her genuine warmth and concern for her clients and their families. One cannot go wrong by selecting her.

Robert C.