Monday , May 20 2019
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Teaching Reading to Adolescent with Autism?

Darolyn asks:

i was wondering if there are any special ways to teach an autistic child to read? my son is 11 and reading on a 1st grade level, he was recently diagnosed with mild autism and i have no idea where to start with all of the treatment so any help at all would be greatly appreciated.

Every child is unique, and learns differently from everyone else.  Difficulties in learning to read are independent from Autism.  Some children on the spectrum are “hyperlexic” meaning that they learn to read very early, while others might never learn to read.  In every case, it is essential to design an individualized strategy to teach the child.  It appears that the approach taken to teach your son to read has not been successful.  I suggest that his IEP be amended to designate specific instructional methods and progress benchmarks for his reading skills.  If he has been taught primarily with a whole language program, it is time to implement a specific structured phonics based program.  If he has been taught via phonics, but is still not able to connect text with meaning, its time to implement more whole language type activities.  At all times, his progress must be carefully monitored, with changes implemented if there is poor improvement.

Many speech and language therapists have strong backgrounds in teaching literacy to their students.  Please be sure that your son’s speech therapist is part of the team who is helping him with his literacy.  Other people who should be included are the school or district reading specialist, classroom teacher, aides and other therapists.  When the entire team focuses on a goal with a singular approach, progress is often better.

Hopefully, your son’s new diagnosis will allow his teachers to better understand how he learns so that they can be more effective in their instruction.