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(319) 335-6660; fax (319) 335-8034

Release: Aug. 24, 2000

UI offers screening and programs for children at risk for reading, writing difficulties

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Wendell Johnson Speech and Hearing Center is offering screening and support programs for preschool and school-aged children at risk for reading or writing problems.

-- Free screenings to identify children ages 4 to 6 who are at risk for developing reading and writing problems will be held Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from Aug. 28 through Sept. 28. Children with language delays and/or a family history of reading problems are candidates for the one-hour screening procedure. Center staff will provide results and recommendations for follow-up care, including two UI programs.

-- Children ages 4 to 6 who are at risk for reading problems can also receive help through a program that will meet Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 to 11:30 a.m. This pre-literacy program begins Oct. 3, and fees will be charged on a sliding scale. Small group instruction and one-on-one training will focus on self-expression and pre-literacy skills such as recognizing letters of the alphabet, letter-sound correspondence, rhyming, and listening to and retelling stories.

-- Children in the second, third or fourth grade who need help with oral language and reading skills can attend an after-school program that meets Tuesdays from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. and Thursdays from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. The program will begin in early September, and fees will be charged on a sliding scale. Instruction focuses on helping young readers improve such skills as decoding and understanding story structure in order to improve reading comprehension.

"With the preschool group, we aim to intervene before the children begin school so they don't develop reading problems or have fewer problems," said Paula Buckwalter, speech pathologist in the UI department of speech pathology and audiology and program organizer. "We help the children already in school focus on improving their reading skills so they can improve in all aspects of their education."

The programs are supervised by Buckwalter and taught by UI graduate students in the department.

For more information about the screening or programs, call (319) 335-8736.