If Content is the Prize, How do we Improve the Odds? Evidence-based Instruction to Support Decoding, Recoding and Reading for Children Using AAC

It has long been recognized that children with significant speech difficulties are particularly vulnerable to difficulties learning to crack the alphabetic code and apply those insights in decoding print and identifying words. Parallel difficulties in recoding (i.e., mapping an internal phonological or spoken form onto a sequence of letters through spelling) are also widely acknowledged. Decoding is a critical skill in reading comprehension, while recoding is a crucial route for spelling – an important skill for children using AAC for all aspects of communication. These challenges are not unique to children using AAC. This presentation will focus on what is known to be effective in supporting the development of phonological decoding and recoding skills for children navigating the early stages of literacy development and explore how these principles can be applied with children who use AAC. The emphasis in the presentation is on how we construct shared meanings, whether as a reader or as a writer, and how children who use aided communication can be supported in developing these skills. Following Nelson’s view that focusing on a person’s ideas is central to becoming a competent user of spoken and written language, how do we best support children to crack the code of written language so that their own ideas can become available to a wider audience and their experiences can be enriched by the ideas of others through their reading?