One of our areas of expertise is with language development and literacy. The best way to understand how we speak and comprehend words we hear to understanding written words is through linguistics. Do not worry, as we will not bore you with any grammatical terms. Instead, let us take an evolutionary perspective. Dogs bark to alert their owners of impending danger, and dolphins produce high pitched sounds and clicks for survival purposes. These are communication forms of in-the-moment attempts alerting you of danger or of the animal’s immediate needs. Yet, to date, there’s no evidence that any other animal species demonstrate the ability to produce and understand grammar. Grammar is what makes us special: It provides us with the ability to discuss past and future events. It is a more sophisticated communication system compared to all other animals and previous human species. What evolved from linguistics is a written form of language called literacy. Schools are built around literacy. Speaking and understanding language have been around before we learned how to read and write. In fact, we do not need to be schooled to learn how to speak and understand our native language. On the other hand, literacy is taught explicitly and systematically and takes many years to learn how to master.
When seeking an evaluation to understand why your child is having difficulties with literacy, the top professionals to choose from are psychologists and speech language pathologists with literacy training. In New York State, licensed clinical psychologists evaluate learning and attentional differences. Next in line are licensed language pathologists who are experts in language (expressive and receptive language and its connection to literacy.) In New York State, language pathologists diagnose language disorders. Language disorders have many names such as developmental language disorder, and research calls it ‘specific language impairment’. Is dyslexia a form of a language disorder? At the research level, academics argue that dyslexia is a language disorder. Dyslexia literally means “bad language.” However, New York State defines dyslexia as a learning disorder which means in New York State, speech language pathologists cannot diagnose learning disorders (this is why psychologists are so vital to your child’s diagnosis). So, whenever your child is having difficulties with literacy, be cautious as teachers and non-licensed therapists cannot diagnose why your child is struggling with literacy. However, it is important that professionals recognize that your child is having learning issues, but it is best to work with a licensed professional who has expertise in this area of concern.
At Brooklyn Letters we offer a variety of language and literacy evaluations. Here’s more information for what we offer. We use assessment materials that are scientifically validated for identifying both language and literacy disorders. We know how to interpret these tests which are crucial for your child’s progress. We use an integrated approach which recognizes the connections between speaking, listening, reading and writing. Without putting these pieces together, it is nearly impossible to understand language learning and potential literacy issues. We also work closely with clinical psychologists who diagnose dyslexia. A full language and literacy evaluation provides you with a comprehensive profile of your child’s strengths and weaknesses and best positions your child for maximal progress. We travel to you and can remotely evaluate your child within a week or two by one of our experienced licensed language pathologists/therapists.
Based on learning how your child is struggling, we act as detectives to thoroughly investigate your child’s spoken and written language skills at the word, sentence, and discourse levels. We explain how one area negatively impacted can spill over to other areas of literacy. For example, if a child is struggling with reading, it could be due to difficulties at either the sound (phoneme), grammar (passive or complex sentences), vocabulary levels at various modalities involving listening (auditory, no text), written, and spoken levels. Poor listening comprehension is highly correlated with weak reading comprehension skills.
Based on the evaluation’s results, intervention goals are developed based on where your child is demonstrating weaknesses, such as phonemes, grammar, and vocabulary in connection to the modality levels (listening, speaking, comprehending text, writing). Recommendations for modifications and accommodations for students with language and literacy disabilities are also provided for families and school staff. These evaluations should not be a substitute for a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation. We work closely with some of the top New York State neuropsychologists. Neuropsychological evaluations are crucial for understanding learning and attentional differences and are more comprehensive than our evaluations. Neuropsychological evaluations dive deep into how attention, memory, cognitive, language, and social/emotional functioning can negatively impact learning. Our assessments can also provide you with invaluable information if you cannot afford a neuropsychological evaluation, you cannot wait months to receive the results of a neuropsychological evaluation, or if your child is suspected of having a language disorder. On average it takes us two weeks to produce the report. Our goal is to provide you with objective data to help you figure out your next steps to intervention or additional testing.