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Assessing the reading skills of a non-verbal pupil

Discussion in 'Special educational needs' started by Loony tunes, Feb 20, 2011.

  1. Loony tunes

    Loony tunes New commenter

    Hi, I have a couple of pupils in my class who are non-verbal. We use a total communication approach and use a mixture of makaton and symbol communication books with them. One of the boys uses some speech but it is very unclear. I think he can read quite well but his communication is not at the same level that I suspect his reading is, neither is his writing. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how I can assess both his reading level and his level of comprehension as I don't think I'm doing it properly at the moment. Thank you!
  2. languageisheartosay

    languageisheartosay Occasional commenter

    Interesting question! You don't describe the ability level of the children which obviously affects how much you can assess. I don't know of any specific material which has been standardised against a peer group but even if you just get a baseline of your own you will have made a start. You need to find a level where much is correct but there are some difficulties - otherwise it's too easy. It is likely you are talking about children with delayed language skills so you are testing that, plus the reading add-on. Using symbols alone, I usually reckon to make instructions with a maximum of 4 symbols which are information-carrying-words e.g. star under big cow. The picture and stickers must have choices for all 4 symbols.Similarly, reading must have meaning for the reader and it is possible to design sentences to be matched to pictures where most of the words have to be read with meaning. E.g. Mary did not have a dog. Pictures would be present with boys and girls and other pets.
    To make it necessary for the child to understand symbols/print, you would have to rely on signing: look! do it! and not say it aloud or sign it all or include extra gesture/facial expression.
    I hope someone else will have something you can obtain easily because it does take time to make these resources! But if you have purchased 'barrier games' in picture form, or 'What's Different?' type cards, you may be able to harness these as a basis to work from.
    Send me a message direct if you have specific questions from this.
  3. Loony tunes

    Loony tunes New commenter

    Thank you languageisheretostay, he's 14, working at P8/ NC level 1. I've assessed listening skills that way but never thought of doing reading that way. That really helps! Thanks
  4. DrSeuss

    DrSeuss New commenter

    This is the very topic of my Phd - please contact me :)
  5. dzil

    dzil Occasional commenter

    In a similar way to what Language is sugesting: A quick informal way to do it is to write him some simple instructions and ask him to "do it". for example, "draw a cat", jump, sit (on / under) the table etc. I've done this often with pupils at P8 level 1. Once you're sure he understands the task you make the instructions gradually harder until you reach his limit.
    Also, have a look at the Bill Gillham test of early Literacy development.

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