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Teaching non-verbal (and minimally verbal) students to read and spell in Key Stage One. 

The National Reading Panel (2000) created a teacher's guide that provided a framework for using their findings in the classroom. Five areas of reading instruction were identified: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and text comprehension. Each section suggests implications for classroom instruction, and these suggested methods tend to require the student to enunciate letter sounds and say words, which can make them difficult to use for nonverbal students. The same can be said for findings and recommendations made by the Rose Report in the UK, and current method of choice; synthetic phonics. Very few (if any) synthetic phonics programmes have been adapted in any way for use with non-verbal students. The Speech Sound Pics (SSP) Approach - developed in Australia - can be used to teach nonverbal and minimally verbal children within the classroom, because of the introduction of Speech Sound Pictographs (Speech Sound Monsters). They are alternatives to phonetic symbols, and children can also use these as an alternative to Cued Articulation- to show the speech sound they cannot produce.
The Speech Sound Pics (SSP) Approach is now available for UK teachers as a systematic phonics approach and will be called Braintree Forest Phonics. Find out why here.  

Nonverbal children do not use oral language to communicate (Kasari, Tager-Flusberg, & Cooper, 2010) and many of these children are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder or selective mutism. Communication deficits are a core symptom of Autism Spectrum Disorders, and students with selective mutism have limited talking patterns. These populations of students are becoming more common in today’s classrooms. For the typical learner, current reading interventions focus on expressive and receptive communication. Current methods of intervention use grade-level curricula to assess reading ability and comprehension. This is problematic as it assumes that all children have an average verbal ability.
Lack of speech also means they are unable to (orally) ask questions, request information, and engage in conversations about the reading material. Alternative strategies must be employed.

However, there is still little research available regarding teaching nonverbal students to read.
Although there are a very small number of studies examining the effectiveness of approaches, these studies do not address whether an approach is more effective for different types of nonverbal children; little research has been undertaken to analyse instructional strategies or interventions that specifically address nonverbal learners. 

Miss Emma, passionate about inclusive education, began working on solutions for ALL learners while living in Australia. They can be used in Key Stage One classrooms with all children, and easily adapted to meet the needs of each individual. Alternatively, a 'Reading Hut' hub could be incorporated to offer additional specialist support.  

Miss Emma is seeking funding to undertake research in this area; teaching non-verbal 4- 6-year-old children to read and spell, as prevention for difficulties within a mainstream school. Early intervention is key. 
Reading Therapy Dogs will soon be included in the I Can Read Without You (ICRWY) Project.

and helping to create lessons within the SSP ICRWY app!  

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Miss Emma has been supporting students with SpLD, and delivering teacher training, for over a decade. 
Resources are created to encourage engagement and curiosity about phoneme to grapheme mapping, through independent exploration of the code. 


Early Intervention

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