The Words First reading and language circuit™ is a visual representation of the processes that need to be in tact for fluent reading and comprehension. Words First therapists are trained to administer a carefully designed assessment battery that taps into these areas and identifies potential difficulties in the reading and language circuit™

Mustafa, Year 8

Mustafa was disengaged in class and constantly day-dreaming. Although his behaviour was not challenging, his teachers noticed that a decrease in the quality of his work.

Mustafa’s reading and language circuit presented with a glitch in the area of phonological awareness. This meant that he had always struggled with reading and spelling. In secondary school this could not be masked anymore as subject specific vocabulary (hard words) were introduced daily and Mustafa could not keep up with learning these.

Mustafa’s plan – Mustafa’s phonological awareness system has never been intact and all phonics, reading and spelling work has been placed on shaky foundation leading to limited success. The constant introduction of subject specific words has pushed Mustafa’s phonological awareness system to its limit and without intervention, he will continue to struggle. The Words First speech and language therapist created a unique student information sheet which was shared with teachers. She then recommended direct intervention in a small group for 10 sessions. Intervention aimed to increase self awareness so that Mustafa understood his difficulties and then targeted the specific underlying deficit with opportunities to practice skills in real life situations. Mustafa’s progress was measured after 10 sessions and found to be within normal limits. Mustafa reported that he never understood why he struggled but was grateful for the support.

Emily, Year 6

A consciencious student who always tried her best. However, parents and teachers felt that she was not reaching her potential. She would often hand in unfinished work with spelling errors suggesting that she wasn’t putting in the effort.

Emily’s reading and language circuit identified a naming speed deficit, which meant that she was slower than her peers to access sounds for visuals. This affected her reading comprehension and spelling as she was constantly behind the rest of her class.

Emily’s plan – the Words First speech and language therapist suggested a two-prong approach for Emily. Firstly, it was important to raise awareness of her own difficulties and provide targeted intervention using innovative therapy approaches such as RAVE-O and the Words First MIM-spot games. Secondly, applying the Edybrun (2006) model, it was necessary to adjust the environment to reduce barriers to Emily’s success. She was motivated to achieve and therefore with increased understanding of her difficulties, strategies to support her in class and removal of barriers, Emily transferred successful to Secondary and was able to achieve target grades.

Jayden, Year 10

Jayden’s behavior had become increasingly disruptive and he was presenting with social adjustment problems. IN class, he was difficult to manage.

Jayden’s reading and language circuit had a glitch in the language areas. Although he could read and spell fluently, he struggled to understand what he was reading and hearing. His difficulties were masked by his good literacy skills.

Jayden’s plan – due to his age, Jayden’s case was more challenging. However, the Words First therapist recommended direct intervention alongside raising teacher’s awareness of language difficulties. Teachers attended a working lunch case study during with the Words First therapists shared the VIVID-Q strategies and in therapy, Jayden learned specific strategies to improve his attention, listening and visualizing skills with a view to becoming an independent and successful learner. Jayden had never fully understood his difficulties resulting in low self-esteem. He reported that it was useful to know why he struggled so that he could do things to help himself reach his goal, which was to complete a bricklaying course.

Jade, Year 1

Jade’s mother had had literacy difficulties as a child but had adjusted well with a good job. Jade was sociable and enjoyed going to school. She had recently turned five and she was starting to fall slightly behind her peers.

Jade’s school ran the Words First screener for all Year 1 students and it was found that Jade’s phonological awareness and naming speed skills were below average for her age. This will impact on the ease with which she acquires the phonic code and later reading, spelling and comprehension difficulties

Jade’s plan – due to a known family history of literacy difficulties and early warning signs of literacy problems, the Words Fist therapist suggested intervention at RTI level 1 – specialist. Jade’s family were thrilled with the offer of intervention and she received 10 weekly sessions of direct speech and language therapy in a small group that targeted her specific underlying skills in phonological awareness and naming speed. Her parents attended the parent workshop set up by Words First and were given ideas for games to improve Jade’s skills in real life situations at home. Her progress was measured after 10 sessions and her phonological awareness and naming speed skills had improved to within normal limits. This meant that the foundation of all phonics work and literacy support would now be on firm foundation.

The Words First battery of assessments was carefully designed to mirror this circuit so that any glitches can be identified and appropriate intervention put in place.