Anna is a Year 6 child who has attended a speech and language base for over 5 years. She has a severe expressive speech and language disorder and poor reading and recording skills. Her comprehension level is above these other skills. Anna tends to get very frustrated with herself when she cannot find the words she wants or write her ideas down. She often gives up and does not volunteer answers in class.
We first used the 'Writing with Symbols' program with Anna to make simple reading books and to help her record basic sentences. It made such a difference - suddenly, she could read word for word instead of guessing and could access a wordlist to record independently. We also supported her expressive language with cue cards.
Anna finds it very hard to formulate a sentence with the words in the correct order which makes it hard for her to communicate with others. She needs thinking time and lots of visual prompting and encouragement. We made question cards she could use to ask questions e.g. "What do you like?" "When is your birthday?" We colour-coded words to remind her to use subject/verb/object etc. and Anna is very good at remembering the colours of each part of speech and to start with "Who" when it was needed. Then we found we could make her cue cards so she could speak in Assembly and at Christmas productions (provided we limited the language). She was proud of herself and her parents were impressed as well.
We used a visual timetable to help Anna remember where she had to be and what was happening each day. She took to this very well, knew if there were to be any changes and sorted these out herself. This also helped other children in her group.
We have extended this support through the use of symbols to other subjects such as Science, History and Geography. Anna really enjoys these subjects, but it was hard for her to contribute without 1-1 support. Now she has some level of independence through using History books and wordlists, Science recording sheets and prepared differentiated work. We have even prepared songs and carols for her to take home and practice. This has helped her to become part of the class and join in with class activities.
Anna uses the WWS program herself to have a go at spelling, writing sentences, poems and stories, and checking vocabulary. She really enjoys this and is becoming quicker at typing in words. She is pleased with the results and likes to print off her work to take home or to show the class.
'Writing with Symbols' has really helped Anna to achieve in areas where she was having great difficulty. She is a very visual learner and this support has benefited her immensely. Her self-esteem has been raised, as has her success in class.
( Rosemary Spicer, Bishopton Primary )