Tutorial: Exploring the Overlap Between Dyslexia and Speech Sound Production Deficits Authors: Kathryn L. Cabbage, Kelly Farquharson, Jenya Iuzzini-Seigel, Jennifer Zuk, Tiffany P. Hogan

Taking special consideration of the role of a speech-language pathologist (SLP) in a child’s development, this article looks at the relationship between dyslexia and speech sound production deficits. By synthesizing a variety of research, this article proposes a more active role for SLPs that will lead to earlier intervention and better outcomes for those with dyslexia.

Although a learning disorder that has proven interventions to help struggling students, the authors point out that it usually takes 2-3 years of a child failing before they are identified as having dyslexia. After this diagnosis, individualized instruction is essential in getting the child back on track; due to this, early identification is key.

So what does this have to do with SLPs? The authors acknowledge that although dyslexia may seem outside the realm of a SLP’s job, the reading deficits associated with dyslexia are intrinsically connected to speech. To better explain this, it is known that dyslexia is primarily characterized as a deficit of the phonological system, which is the words and sounds that make up a language. The encoding and decoding of words and letters are therefore the manifestation of this system at work, and can be seen in both oral and written speech. The authors state “it follows that individuals with dyslexia may produce errors during speech production, an ability that relies heavily on phonology” (776). The main takeaway from this is that even though speech errors are viewed as separate from reading errors, they are intertwined. Therefore, SLPs are extremely relevant in the identification of dyslexia for young children.

Overall, the authors advocate for SLPs to play a more central role in the reading, writing, and speech development of a child. Even if not under their direct guidance, SLPs can recognize early signs and markers for dyslexia, allowing for a better chance for early identification. This can also be combined with familial history of dyslexia and the activities performed with a SLP. Lastly, the authors point out that SLPs have the ability to keep both parents and teachers informed about a child’s development, helping to raise awareness of certain difficulties.

To read the full article along with examples of how to integrate dyslexia identification into a SLP’s practice, click here.

[Kathryn L. Cabbage, Kelly Farquharson, Jenya Iuzzini-Seigel, Jennifer Zuk, Tiffany P. Hogan Language • Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools • Vol. 49 • 774–786 • October 2018]