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Teaching Reading and Spelling to Children with Autism

Teach reading to autistic children

Autism can present a broad range of challenges, especially when it comes to learning. Although autism doesn’t always affect a child’s ability to learn, it often affects the way a child learns. And that can be especially important when it’s time to teach an autistic child to read and spell.

Kids with Autism Learn Differently

Autistic kids often have difficulty learning in traditional ways because their brains just don’t process information in the same way that other children’s do. They are wired differently.

For example, many children with autism are visual thinkers—they think in pictures instead of words. Other autistic children learn better through sound, and still others learn best with touch. Many have problems getting sequences to stick in their memory banks, like long strings of words, numbers, or multi-step instructions. And differentiating between certain sounds can be difficult for the autistic child, which makes learning to read especially hard.

If this description sounds like your child, I have good news. When you use simple, step-by-step, multisensory techniques that actively engage children in the learning process, teaching your child to read and spell does not have to be a daunting task.

6 Tips for Teaching Children with Autism

Here are six teaching tips to help you teach reading and spelling to your child.

  1. Use Direct Instruction

    Teaching Reading and Spelling to Autistic Children - All About Learning Press

    With direct instruction, lessons are carefully sequenced and explicit. The student is told exactly what he needs to know. Each reading and spelling lesson should include three simple steps:

    • A review of what was learned the day before
    • New teaching of a single concept
    • A short practice of the new teaching
  2. Focus on Incremental Lessons

    Break every skill down into its most basic steps and then teach the lessons in a logical order, carrying your child from one concept or skill to the next. Each step should build on steps your child has already mastered, ensuring that there are no gaps.

  3. Teach One New Concept at a Time

    When teaching children their letters, start with the phonograms and teach them the ones that are easiest to learn and that they can put to immediate use, like M, S, P, and A. Teaching one concept at a time respects the child’s funnel and helps learning stick. It also helps keep lessons short.

  4. Use Multisensory Techniques

    All About Reading curriculum on whiteboard

    Since children with autism do not all learn in the same way, it is important to teach every lesson using sight, sound, and touch. Visual learners like to see what they are learning. Auditory learners prefer to hear oral instructions and then discuss what they have learned to solidify the material. Hands-on learners absorb knowledge best when they can touch and manipulate objects.

    A magnetic white board with moveable letters works wonders for both kinesthetic and visual learners. Saying the word or letter out loud is important for auditory learners. Actively forming the letters in sand or rice, or tracing the shape of the letter on a textured surface like sandpaper or velvet, is another effective technique for some children. And allowing your child to choose his own favorite textured surface makes the activity that much more engaging.

    Since many autistic children also have difficulty with fine motor control and need easy, simple, and repeated activities to help them develop this skill, these types of kinesthetic exercises will help in this area, too.

  5. Provide Concrete Examples

    Children with autism often have difficulty processing abstract ideas. Color-coded letter tiles provide concrete examples of reading and spelling concepts.

    Also, many autistic children cannot process excessive verbal input. Demonstrating blending and segmenting using letter tiles allows the child to understand the process without being overwhelmed with long verbal explanations.

  6. Reward Your Child’s Progress

    Happy girl holding completed All About Reading progress chart

    It is important to make the lessons mastery-based and to include a visual way for your child to mark her progress, such as a chart where she can paste stars for each lesson learned.

    And don’t forget to use words of encouragement every step of the way. Simple encouragement like “Good job!” or “You did great!” or “Excellent!” goes a long way toward building confidence and self-esteem in children, motivating them to keep learning.

  7. Notes from Parents of Children with Autism

    “When our twins were diagnosed with autism, we knew that we needed to play to their strengths in looking for curriculum. I quickly discovered that they do better when they are naturally motivated to engage. All About Reading and All About Spelling do just that, and the programs scream “autism-friendly.” This is wonderful curriculum!” – Cindy, mother of two children with autism, and blogger at My Life as a Rinnagade

    “My mildly autistic son struggled severely in school. Watching him flounder was breaking my heart, so I pulled him out to home school. We were recommended to All About Reading and All About Spelling by a random acquaintance. I love your products! We have done All About Reading Levels 1-3. The stories are so engaging! My son always asks to do reading first because he knows he will be reading a great story or doing a fun activity. THANK YOU for this amazing product!” – Jessica

    “My 13-year-old nonverbal, autistic son is spelling and writing thanks to All About Spelling!! I had initially bought this to use with my 10-year-old who has difficulty with spelling, but when I saw the materials I thought, Hey, I can modify this to use with Matthew (my 13-year-old). I am so thankful for your program! I would love to share this story with other moms of special needs children in case they are wondering, as I was, if this would work for their child.” – Tara

    Does your child have autism? What has helped for reading and spelling instruction? Let me know in the comments below!

    Photographs by Cindy Rinna and Jill M.

    teaching kids with autism pinterest graphic

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Supriya

says:

Yes my child has problem with spellings

Thusan

says:

Thanks Will try this on my 12years student,home schooling

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Great to har, Thusan. Let me know if you need help with placement or have any questions.

Protus

says:

Thanks for the lesson I will try it on my Son who is 13 years old.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Protus. Let me know if you have any questions.

Heather

says:

Hiya. I’ve just came across your post while my daughter is in another room trying to do the online school work set out for all P1s online while they are at home Re this virus. My grandson 2 months ago got his official diagnosis after waiting nearly 2 years to get the official testing/scoring placement on the spectrum. When we had meeting at new school prior to starting P1. Head Teachers attitude was we don’t know for sure yet. No we have had pre testing and scored all 3 which puts you on the list for the next level to determine. The problem is apart from many. The school curriculum is being peddled with one size fits all. The report copy went to his mum – school – etc to show that H is autistic. Head teacher has not even replied to this yet. Unfortunately is all about stats and hmi reports. H P1 teachers is split he has 3 days one teacher 2 days other P1 teacher. Very quickly became apart in meeting both which one he would gravitate too. One is regimental top group’s downwards, it’s all about winning. No mention about taking part and trying. H other teacher is all about praise and learning finding strengths taking part and trying she is engaging but H only gets her the 2 days. Since home learning following this online curriculum it’s been bedlam if screaming being sick everything to avoid. I’m bad I can’t do it. Something that’s never been said. I have 2 sons one has ADD & dyslexia the other ADHD there was no help scrambling in the dark learning As I went. Schools from then to now have really not evolved much which really is a shame for the students navigating school. Yes this was a bit long winded sorry about that but it’s the first site I’ve written on behalf of my grandson. I want to make the whole learning as much plain sailing to get a grasp of basics to move him forward. So by time he goes back to school will be more fluent. The learning of how to teach nowadays seems a bit really in comparison as to how I learnt and my own children. More so when the child has additional needs. Again it’s not one size fits all. My daughter is we need to do this what the school has put out. My argument is again it’s not all one size fits. No account has been made for showing flexibility in how learning is being done nor any understanding of. Like I said HT was not interested when we said H had pre diagnosis. Now that she has the report and when school goes back let’s see her keep that going.
I’ve read about this study stuff listed in helping so I’m away to absorb as much to help my grandson. Thanks Hx

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You are so correct, Heather! Learning is not one-size-fits-all. Good materials need to take into consideration that each child is a unique learner with unique needs. That is one of the reasons why our materials are Mastery-Based. They allow each child to progress at his or her individual best pace.

Let me know if you have any questions or need information.

Hail

says:

My son loves watching alpha blocks, not only is it a fun way to learn phonics but there is a game too to then test the knowledge in a stress free way. They do maths too👍🏿

anne reynolds

says:

my god child is 12yr. he can speak. but just lately started t to speak fast and repeats the sentence. how can I help him to slow down.

nickie

says:

hi anne! my daughter used to do this same thing.. it just came out of nowhere.. what i had to do was use a technique that i just stumbled across for a reading fluency, but it actually worked for her… the lady called it “ice cream scoops” so basically you break the sentence up into parts 2 to 3 words per part…. so, The dog ran fast down the road…. becomes …. The dog….ran fast…down the road… and you draw sort of a smiley face (ice cream scoop) under to connect the words… your child then traces the “scoop” while saying the broken up phrases….. this slowed my daughter down considerably because she was having to focus on tracing the “Scoop” in the phrases before she was able to read the sentence as a whole. it just kind of made the light bulb click that “oh.. i need to slow down” this did not happen in 1 sitting… it took some practice- a couple of times i had to hide the phrases so she couldn’t see what was next until she got the hang of stopping at each scoop… i know this is hard to explain in a written message.. i hope it some what helps though or gives some sort of idea.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Nickie,
I love calling it “ice cream scoops”! What a wonderful way of explaining it so that a child can connect.

The educational term for it is phrasing. We explain it in our How to Develop Reading Fluency blog post. It’s an excellent method for helping smooth, natural, fluent reading.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m not sure, Anne. All About Learning Press specializes in taking the struggle out of learning to read and speak. We don’t really do speech therapy.

Have you tried asking him to say something again, slower, so you can understand better? If you gently ask him to repeat whenever he speaks too quickly, he may start to self-correct and speak at a more conversational speed on his own. Let him know that you know he has a lot to say but you can’t understand when he says it as fast as that and that you do want to understand.

I’m sorry I’m unable to help much.

Keri

says:

I have a 13 year old nonverbal son. He is always been in a self-contained classroom and now they are focusing more on lifeskills than phonics. His development is very splintered and delayed. I want to teach him to read and write. He can write a few legible words. I can tell he knows some sight words. Any ideas on where to start? I can understand a good majority of what his needs are. He has about 70 signs he sometimes uses, If he feels like it. He has Lamplighter on his iPad but hates to use it. He doesn’t like to obey me because he hates that I make him wash his hands and brush his teeth. So even getting him to learn new things is a bit difficult for me. But I really think he can learn a lot more than he already has. Any suggestions would be appreciated! Sincerely, Keri

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Keri,
Does he see a speech therapist? If so, I wonder if his therapist would have any ideas for how to know if he is able to read the words, even if he doesn’t say the words aloud? It may be that the multi-sensory methods would encourage him to be a bit more verbal now and try saying the words as he touches the tiles–it’s just hard to say at this point. Unfortunately, knowing what to do next in this case is beyond our expertise.

Since he is writing some, working with him with All About Spelling as a back-door approach to reading might be helpful. Then he could write words and if he can write a word, it is very likely he can read it. (Read the comment from the mom of a 13-year-old non-verbal student in the green “Notes from Parents of Autistic Children” on this blog post above.)

If you do decide to try one of our programs, we would love to hear how it goes for you. Also, do know that we have a “Go Ahead and Use It” One-Year Guarantee. If you find that the curriculum does not meet your needs, simply return the materials at any time within one year of purchase for a full refund of your purchase price, excluding shipping.

I hope this helps some. Please let me know if you need more information or have questions.

Carole

says:

How to help a child with echolalia read read. Are there other parents who have a child with and how did u help them to read.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Carole,
I haven’t heard specifically from parents or tutors of children with echolalia, but I do have some thoughts

You don’t mention your child’s age, but for young children with any disability, teaching time woven into playful activities is very, motivational. One of our main goals with our Pre-reading program is to motivate children to want to learn to read, and playful activities is a big part of that. Most effective therapy with children, such a speech therapy and occupational therapy, involves playful activities and games.

Children with speech disorders have to work harder than other children to communicate, and perhaps Ziggy, our zebra puppet that is part of the Pre-reading program, would provide a reason for your child to make the extra effort.

If you have further questions or would like more information, please let me know. It would be helpful to know more about your child as well too.

Anita Morris

says:

Good day, I ave an autistic child in the classroom that I am assisting (am not the teacher for the class, just an assistance) he knows letters by heart and the sounds and what each letter stands for but the problem with him is that he cannot write I have to dot the letters for him and then he traces them and also it hard to get him to focus.. am writing from Jamaica. Thanks in advance

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Anita,
It’s so good of you to seek out ways to help your student succeed!

You didn’t mention how old he is.

It may be best in this situation to separate physical writing from other learning. If he is asked to spell a word, he could do it orally or by using letter tiles or pointing to letters on an alphabet chart. At a separate time, he would work on strengthening his hand muscles with handwriting practice, coloring and painting, playing with dough or clay, and other activities. You may find our blog post Dysgraphia: How can I help my child? for ideas on how to separate physical writing from other learning.

I hope this helps but let me know if you have additional questions.

Neisha

says:

Intresting ,i live in jamaica .my son will listen to ehat u spell then tell u ,but cant look at the word to read it,how can i hrlp him outside of sch he is now 13

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Neisha,
I’m so sorry to hear your son is struggling like this! My first thought was that there may be a vision problem. Since he can figure out a word from listening to a word spelled but can’t read it, then there must be a problem there. It could be that he isn’t able to see the word clear enough to be able to read it.

Or, it is possible that he learned letters well orally but never learned them well by sight. He may not identify an A written as the same letter as “A” when spoken aloud. Can he identify individual letters either in a word or written alone?

Without knowing the root cause of his struggles, it’s difficult to offer suggestions. You could look over our placement tests and let me know how he does.

Maxine Williams

says:

My grandson ave autism and sometimes it’s like I reach a wall in teaching him to spell plus u can give him more than one word at a time.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Maxine,
Spelling can be difficult for many students. Do you have any questions or need information? I’d love to help if I can.

Maxine Williams

says:

He can identify letters by heart and numbers the only problem is getting him focus on spelling. Which book should I try the teacher manual or the student all about reading and spelling

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Maxine,
If he is reading pretty well, then he is ready for All About Spelling level 1. This link takes you to the Materials Package which includes both the Teacher’s Manual and the Student Packet. Both are necessary for using All About Spelling.

In addition, you will need our Spelling Interactive Kit. It is a one-time purchased used throughout all seven levels of All About Spelling.

If he is not reading pretty well, then he needs to work on reading first. Our blog post The Right Time to Start Spelling Instruction discusses this.

Let me know if you need more information.

Dorothy

says:

My first grader is having problems they want a book report and she has problems writing it is due Thursday.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Dorothy,
First, I highly recommend you contact your child’s teacher and ask her what she is expecting for this book report, how much help is reasonable for parents to give, and anything else. It is important for the teacher to know that her student is having difficulties with the assignment too, so she can give more help in class or can modify the assignment.

I’d love to help you, but I would need more information. Typically, for a first-grade book report students aren’t asked to do much. Usually a few sentences, maybe a worksheet to fill out, maybe just be prepared to speak in front of the class about the book. Given her young age, it is reasonable for her to tell you what she wants to say, you write it down for her, then she copies what you wrote in her own handwriting.

But more than anything, see what your child’s teacher says.

vinitha

says:

I am preschool teacher,one of my kids has otisum.He never looks my eyes directly,,he never talks with e and his family members,but he is muttering some words,Now he is completed his 3 years.Please tell me how can I develop his performence.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Vinitha,
I appreciate your wanting to help your student. Take a look at this website that explains autism fully and has many links to information on how such children are helped with communication and social behaviors, Understood.com What is Autism.

I’m sorry I cannot help you directly, but it’s not an issue I am knowledgable about.

Deborah

says:

Hi… my 6 (nearly 7) year old son is ASD level 2. He is mainstreamed in a private school and did great in K5 with highest GPA etc. Toll into grade 1 and he is struggling. He can read the book for his homework but the 10 words for spelling (not related to the book) are a big struggle. I’ve spent hours work with him, tried different approaches and last week after 3 fails he passed his test. He has another new set of words and when working with him he just guesses, is highly distracted, gets very upset and honestly it’s as if he doesn’t hear what I am saying. Personally I think it’s very upsetting for him to be this anxious and he will just shut down. He has always been a highly visual learner and auditory is a struggle from comprehension of what I asked him to do to random answers that have nothing to do with what we were talking about. I feel that it’s the auditory part that he is struggling with and the pressure of “testing” and having to listen. He’s teacher is very old school so no accommodations yet though I am working to change that. How would All About Spelling help him so he can learn more effectively at home which enables him to succeed more at school. I’m dreading every spelling week because it’s so upsetting for us both. He has been receiving ABA since he was 3 and it’s helped but I’ve no clue what to do right now.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Deborah,
I’m so sorry to hear your son is struggling so with spelling.

I think you may find our blog post Does Your Child’s Spelling List Make Sense? informative. Traditional weekly spelling lists tend to choose words based on how frequent they are used in language and the words may have no connection to each other in pattern or spellings. Or, if the list is chosen based on a spelling pattern, the next list might focus on a different spelling pattern for the same sound. These sorts of lists tend to leave students with the impression that spelling is random and all of it must simply be memorized.

All About Spelling is designed to take the struggle out spelling!

All About Spelling is multisensory. This means AAS approaches learning through sight, sound, and touch. This helps kids remember what they learn because they take in information in various ways and also interact with it in various ways. It focuses on encoding skills, spelling rules, and other strategies that help children become good spellers.

I hope this helps, but please let me know if you have further questions or need more information.

Mary

says:

Great support sight.

Garima verma

says:

My son is diagnosed with ASD 8 years old and does not pay attention at all for reading and spelling words he identifies letters but have confusion in similar looking letters. He does not understand phonics can’t join letters and read aloud word. Despite of telling repeatedly he will read only letters not word as a whole not even sight words. He hates writing too. How to help him? He gets anxious and stressed with study work.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Garima,
I’m sorry your son is struggling with reading and writing like this. It sounds like he possibly needs to go back to some foundational skills. Take a look at our All About Reading level 1 placement test. Are there any areas in it that he isn’t skilled in? If so, then he isn’t ready to begin joining letters into words yet. He would need the Pre-reading level to build the foundational skills necessary for reading.

The good news is that All About Reading makes use of short, focused lessons with various types of activities that include movement and fun. This is often all that is needed to keep distracted children’s focused on task. And by working on the beginning skills he needs, he will be able to have more success and will have less anxiety and stress.

Let me know what you think about the placement test and any questions you have.

Soo

says:

My seven-year-old son has been diagnosed with autism and ADHD (he is medicated with Vyvanse) and is unable to read independently. He is able to read with assistance books that we have read together previously. However, when given a new book or asked to read from, say, a sign he struggles. While I read with him every night, I feel we are not making progress. He started school in a mainstream kindergarten class and was moved into a Support class for Years 1 and 2. I also have him tutored two nights a week. I just feel there has been no progression in his reading proficiency and I am becoming frustrated with the school.

I am considering moving him back into mainstream classes as I feel his social development is becoming stunted. His friends are all in mainstream classes, but he is finding it difficult to make new friends in his Support class. I find there is also a lot of stigmas attached to having him in Support when we try to arrange play dates with other parents. While he can socialise and play normally, I feel that if his reading improves he can have more freedom to express himself and move back into an environment that encourages his social development.

Unfortunately, reading and writing are our greatest stumbling blocks and I feel like I am losing hope.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m so sorry to hear about your son’s struggles. What kind of work is your son doing in his Support classes and tutoring? Often when students struggle, they need to be taught in a different way to be able to succeed. However, sometimes Support classes and tutoring end up being the same kind of instruction that didn’t work before just doing it slower or more one-on-one.

If his Support classes or tutoring are not working with him with an Orton-Gillingham based approach to teaching reading, it may be best to begin such a program with him yourself. Orton-Gillingham based approaches are research proven to help those that struggle with reading and spelling to have success. All About Reading is an Orton-Gillingham based approach.

Here are some ways that All About Reading can help kids that struggle with reading:

– Each lesson time is simple and explicit, and will include 3 simple steps: review of what was learned the day before, a simple new teaching, and a short practice of that new teaching. You will teach for just 20 minutes a day.

– Incremental lessons. AAR breaks every teaching down into its most basic steps and then teaches the lessons in a logical order, carrying the students from one concept or skill to the next. Each step builds on the one the student has already mastered.

– AAR is multisensory. Research has shown that when a child is taught through all three pathways at the same time, a method known as simultaneous multisensory instruction, he will learn significantly more than when taught only through his strongest pathway.

– AAR uses specially color-coded letter tiles. Working with the All About Reading letter tiles can make the difference between understanding or not understanding a concept. We also offer a Letter Tiles for Learning app for those that prefer an app to physical tiles.

– AAR is scripted, so you can concentrate on your child. The script is very clear, without excess verbiage. All About Reading is designed to be easy for parents to teach at home.

– AAR has built-in review in every lesson. Children with learning struggles generally need lots of review in order to retain concepts. With AAR, your child will have a Reading Review Box so you can customize the review. This way, you can concentrate on just the things that your child needs help with, with no time wasted on reviewing things that your child already knows.

– AAR has lots of fluency practice. One of the things that Marie, the author, noticed when she was researching reading programs is that few programs have enough review built in for kids who struggle to gain fluency. AAR has fluency practice sheets or a story to be read with every lesson, so children can practice reading smoothly with expression and confidence.

All About Reading has a one-year guarantee. You can try it, and if for any reason you feel that it isn’t the right match for your child, return it for a full refund.

I hope this helps! Please let me know if you have additional questions.

Johnny McCarron

says:

I love how you mentioned including a visual way for your child to mark their learning progress. I have a friend who is struggling to help her child with special needs get through school. She’s considering education therapy– really, anything would help.

Anthea

says:

My child is autistic and we struggle to teach him to read thank you.

Asah Rosechelles Claire

says:

Hello Cindy , am Rosechelles .I have great challenge teaching my student reading and spelling skills because she does not talk, can you help me with this?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Rosechelles,
Teaching a non-verbal student is definitely a challenge. You don’t mention your student’s age or ability level to respond or communicate without words.

For the All About Reading program, you really need to be able to hear your student read in order to understand and help her with the mistakes she may make.

For example, an activity like pointing out “which word is SNOW” isn’t as difficult for a student as reading the word SNOW. So, unfortunately, it isn’t sufficient to have her identify a word; she will need to be able to sound it out and read it.

Does she ever act out things she hears? I wonder if she would sometimes be able to act out what she reads. I have heard of non-verbal autistic students being able to communicate by acting and gesturing. It might give you a clue into what she understands, though I’m not sure how clear of an indicator this would be.

Is she seeing a speech therapist? The therapist may have ideas for how to know if your student is able to read words even if she does not say them aloud. Unfortunately, knowing what to do in cases like this is beyond our expertise. It may be that the multisensory methods of All About Reading would encourage her to be a bit more verbal and try saying the words as she touches the tiles. However, it may not. It’s hard to say.

If she is older and writing letters well, I’d be tempted to suggest All About Spelling with her as a back-door approach because then she could write words instead of having to read them. (Read the comment from the mom of a 13-year-old non-verbal student in the green “Notes from Parents of Autistic Children” on this blog post.)

I am sorry I can’t provide more concrete help. However, if you have further questions please let me know.

Thanuja

says:

Hi
Need help for my child

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Hello, Thanuja. What kind of help do you need? I’d love to be able to answer questions and offer suggestions for you as you help your child.

Most Sultana

says:

Hi
My daughter is 7 years old she is ASD. she is weak in math. she hate math. I am struggle to impress her to doing math.she has language delay.her expressive and receiving language is not understandable. she speak so many word but some time meaningful some time we don’t understand.still need prompting she is in Gr.2. she don’t like to go school and don’t want to do study.some time she go to school willingly. she like music class . We want her language improvement like answering any question,express her self properly,understanding and social communication development. How can we can we do overcome her problem?

Shirley A Gaither

says:

Please keep me updated. Thankk you

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Shirley,
Would you like me to sign you up for our newsletter?

Katherine Evans

says:

My Son has autism and struggles with reading and spelling. Are there grants available to help off-set the cost of the program? Thank you.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Katherine,
We’ve partnered with an organization called HSLDA Compassion in order to help those that need help. First, you will need to contact HSLDA Compassion and apply to receive a grant for financial assistance to help with your homeschooling-related needs. If your family qualifies for a grant, they will then provide you with instructions for obtaining All About Reading and All About Spelling curriculum.

The best way to begin the application process is through their website, HSLDA Compassion. You can also call or write to them at:

Address: PO Box 1152, Purcellville, VA 20134
Phone: 540-338-8688

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Tshidi

says:

Good day. My 2years and 8month old son is Autistic. I can’t see to teach him anything. He looses concentration and his his speech delay its very challenging to start something and finish it.

Merry

says: Customer Service

Hi Tshidi, he’s young yet! Focus on playing with him, reading aloud to him, and gently helping him with his speech (I’m guessing he’s also getting some speech therapy to help with that.) Reading will come later :-).

Peter Horne

says:

I need to restructure sentences for my 14 year old son to say where can I go

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Peter,
I’m not sure what you are asking for. Are you asking about helping a non-verbal or minimal verbal 14-year-old learn to speak? Does he see a speech therapist? Maybe she can offer help and ideas for you to work on at home.

I’m sorry I’m not able to offer much help.

Annie

says:

Hello. I work as a Special Ed Para with a 2nd grade autistic student. He’s pretty bright, and can do much of the class work. However, he doesn’t enjoy, in fact, hates writing in his journal about his weekend (his parent sends in a list of activities he does over the weekend) to help him remember. Still, he writes as little as he can get away with, or hardly anything and it is extremely messy. At this point the teacher will send it home for homework. This is when the extreme whining, crying, avoiding putting his journal in his homework folder to take home. He has even gone as far as to hide it. The whining is very disruptive to the class and is getting old. I don’t see any signs of it getting better even though we have used a reward system. Is there anything else I can do to change the situation? I

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Annie,
I can see how this is frustrating to you, the teaching, and the student!

From what you write, I get the impression that it is only with the journal that he is this difficult on an ongoing basis. It is possible that writing is physically difficult for him and he avoids it for that reason. Having a strong aversion to writing along with very messy writing are symptoms of dysgraphia. Dysgraphia can coexist with other learning disabilities, including autism. Our blog post Dysgraphia: How can I help my child? describes this disability and thing that can be done to help those that have it.

Since writing in his journal is such a problem for both him and for the class at large, he may need his IEP updated. It could be as simple as having him dictate to you what he wants to be written in his journal and you write it. Or, maybe he could do the homework by typing his journal entry or using speech-to-text software. Removing the creative act of writing (coming up with the words) from the physical act may go a long way to solving this problem. Occupational therapy can help students build the fine motor skills necessary to find writing not so difficult, so that would possibly be helpful as well.

I hope you can find a way to help this student. I hope this helps some.

Tracey kyles

says:

My grandson is 10yrs old, and I would love him to be able to read and comprehend. How can you assist with important issue.

I am struggling so much with teaching my first graders with autism how to read- especially with decoding and comprehension. They are nonverbal and not easily motivated to participate in things that they didn’t choose until they have “bought into them”. However, I have learned that they love structure and routine and I have not been able to find a reading program that resonates enough with them for them to buy in. Receptively, they can point to all letters, uppercase and lower, and know almost all of the sounds. But every curriculum that I’ve tried is either not engaging enough or it just starts out too hard and they don’t experience success quickly enough. These are smart kids. They require 1:1 teaching, but they can learn if I can just find a curriculum that doesn’t leave holes. Can you please tell me if your program would really be a good fit for them, and if so, what recommendations would you make for modifications for their responses since they cannot produce sounds yet? I will have to buy everything with my own money, so I really need to spend it wisely. Thank you! :)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Stacy,
You will run into difficulties with any reading program with non-verbal students. You will have no reliable way to evaluate if they are reading the words correctly or not. While you could write three words (such as bow, snow, and snot) and then ask a student to point to the one that says snow, this isn’t nearly as difficult as reading the word snow in isolation without knowing ahead of time what it ought to be. Unfortunately, it isn’t sufficient to have a student identify a word from a group of words; he or she needs to be able to sound it out and read it.

Another possible adaptation is to have the student act out a word he or she reads. This can tell you the word is understood, but of course this only works for words that are pretty easy to act out. It would work for jump and grin, but not so well for be or part. Also, it requires that the student is able to communicate by gestures or miming. Some non-verbal students can and some cannot.

Rather, you may consider approaching reading by spelling. This will allow the students to do something physically that demonstrates their knowledge. Sometimes older students who are non-verbal find that the spelling program is a key for unlocking reading for them as a backdoor kind of approach. If a student can spell a word, you can be reasonably sure he or she can read it. However, it’s hard to say whether that program might work for your students now. They are still very young and many first-graders struggle with reading and spelling even if they have no verbal difficulties.

In the spelling program, your students would be focusing on building words with tiles or writing words rather than reading out loud to you. It’s possible that would be easier to modify for them. See Tara’s comment in the Green Box in this blog post. Most of the time we don’t recommend teaching spelling before a student completes All About Reading 1, but it might be worth considering in your students’ case if they are already writing letters well.

If you do decide to try one of our programs, we would love to hear how it goes for you. Also, do know that we have a “Go Ahead and Use It” One-Year Guarantee. If you find that the curriculum does not meet your needs, simply return the materials at any time within one year of purchase for a full refund of your purchase price, excluding shipping.

Please let me know if you have further questions.

Stacy White

says:

I really appreciate such a thoughtful response. Thank you so much! As soon as funds are available to me, I am going to try your spelling program. I think you may be right about the backdoor approach working for them in this case. Thanks again!

Kay

says:

Here I thought there were no articles referencing ASD learners on your site. Thank you for this.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Kay. Let me know if you have any questions.

Renna

says:

My 5yr old son has autism. He isn’t like most autistic children I’ve seen. His temperament and motor skills are typical of a 5yr old. He just gets really frustrated doing his homework when it comes to reading and spelling . I’ve tried flash cards and all sorts of games but he still struggles. Is there anything else i can do to help him cause he gets so frustrated that he cries . Breaks my heart .

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Renna,
I’m so sorry your little one is struggling! Poor guy. It’s enough to break any mother’s heart.

It may be that the way reading is being taught in his school isn’t orderly enough for him. Many programs teach words that are high frequency, meaning they appear often in children’s books, but are not chosen for having common patterns. This makes reading seem very random and illogical to young learners.

Such learners almost always do better with an approach that focuses on the patterns and orderliness of English. Does he know phonograms and how to sound words out? If not, I recommend beginning there.

And All About Reading has a great success rate with helping struggling learners, autistic or not, to not only succeed with reading but to enjoy it as well.

I hope this helps some, but please let me know if you have further questions or need anything.

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