Steve Johnson, a learning specialist, came for a visit to speak with our speech therapists here at Jennifer Katz, Inc (JKI). He spoke about his overall professional role and his assessment and treatment processes. Steve built his San Francisco private practice from the ground up. He currently supports students in grades kindergarten through sixth. The majority of Steve’s clients are receiving remediation for language-based learning differences. This includes language delays, dyslexia, and dysgraphia.
Dyslexia is a brain-based type of learning disability that specifically impairs a person’s ability to read. Individuals with dyslexia typically read at levels significantly lower than expected despite having normal intelligence. Although the disorder varies from person to person, common characteristics among people with dyslexia are difficulty with phonological processing (the manipulation of sounds), spelling, and/or rapid visual-verbal responding.
Dysgraphia is a brain-based type of learning disability that specifically impairs a person’s ability to write.
The American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) define the components of reading:
The ability to transform orthographic patterns of alphabetic letters into phonological patterns of a corresponding spoken word
The ability toidentify words when reading, either through word decoding or sight word identification
The ability to recognize and read words accurately, smoothly, and quickly, usually in context
The ability to understand the meaning of written text
Steve stressed that phonemic awareness is the bedrock for decoding (reading) and encoding (writing). Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate sounds. Children need to be aware of how sounds work before we can expect them to learn to read. Steve states that speaking language is hardwired, but reading language must be learned.
In his work, Steve administers assessments to identify students’ strengths and weakness; however, he does not provide any diagnoses. Steve will then interpret the data from the assessment to determine which areas require intervention. As speech therapists, we often collaborate with learning specialists, so it was great to learn more information from Steve!