The purpose of the present study was: (a) to examine the extent to which speech-language therapy provided to children with language disorders in the schools targets code-based literacy skills (e.g., alphabet knowledge and phonological awareness) during business-as-usual treatment sessions, and (b) to determine whether literacy-focused therapy time was associated with factors specific to children and/or speech-language pathologists (SLPs).
Participants were 151 kindergarten and first-grade children and 40 SLPs. Video-recorded therapy sessions were coded to determine the amount of time that addressed literacy. Assessments of children's literacy skills were administered as well as questionnaires regarding characteristics of SLPs (e.g., service delivery, professional development).
Results showed that time spent addressing code-related literacy across therapy sessions was variable. Significant predictors included SLP years of experience, therapy location, and therapy session duration, such that children receiving services from SLPs with more years of experience, and/or who utilized the classroom for therapy, received more literacy-focused time. Additionally, children in longer therapy sessions received more therapy time on literacy skills.
There is considerable variability in the extent to which children received literacy-focused time in therapy; however, SLP-level factors predict time spent in literacy more than child-level factors. Further research is needed to understand the nature of literacy-focused therapy in the public schools.
Readers will be able to: (a) define code-based literacy skills, (b) discuss the role that speech-language pathologists have in fostering children's literacy development, and (c) identify key factors that may currently influence the inclusion of literacy targets in school-based speech-language therapy.