Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify and manipulate the sounds (phonemes) in spoken words. It usually emerges around age 4 when preschoolers realize that words are made up of sounds. For example, the spoken word “cat” has 3 sounds…c-a-t. Next preschoolers and kindergarteners learn to isolate these sounds, enabling them to tell you that the first sound in “cat” is “c”, the second sound is “a” and the last sound is “t”. Soon these children learn to blend the individual sounds into the whole word and, conversely, to take the whole word and break it into sounds. Eventually, 5-year-olds can replace the “c” in the word “cat” with an “f” to make the word “fat” and replace the “t” in “fat” with an “n” to make the word “fan”.
Children who can perform these skills have phonemic awareness and are ready to learn the letters that go with the sounds…otherwise known as phonics. We know for a fact that phonemic awareness is critical for the emergence of reading and writing. Kindergarten children who lack phonemic awareness skills are at risk for reading failure.
How Can We Help?
The specialists at Jodie K. Schuller & Associates are professional speech and language therapists, many with over 25 years of experience in communicative disorders. Licensed by the state of California as speech-language pathologists, our therapists have also completed advanced training in specific techniques to enhance oral and written communication. Therapists have been trained to help children with social challenges using Michele Garcia Winner’s Social Thinking Curriculum. To help those with delayed speech development, therapists have taken advanced training in the Talk Tools approach to oral motor therapy and the Cycles approach to phonology. Having attended the Childhood Apraxia (CASANA) Conference, therapists have been trained to use the Kaufman, Strand and Prompt methodologies, among others, to help those with apraxia of speech. Therapists have studied the various methodologies recommended to treat children on the autism spectrum including PECS and Floortime. They are equipped to help nonverbal children using American Sign Language (ASL) and Alternative and Augmentative (AAC) devices. To facilitate the development of reading and written language development, therapists have attended training programs from coast to coast including post-graduate courses offered by the Landmark School of Education, the Wilson Reading System (based on Orton Gillingham) and the complete range of programs developed by Lindamood Bell including LIPS, Visualizing and Verbalizing, On Cloud 9 Math and Seeing Stars. Therapists have also been certified by the International Association of Orofacial Myology (IAOM) to diagnose and treat breathing and swallowing problems related to unhealthy oral resting postures, sucking habits and tongue thrust.