Teaching Autistic Children Reading

Teaching autistic children reading can be challenging and time-consuming, but worth the effort and very rewarding. Autism is one of the Pervasive Developmental Disorders and impacts the way that the child reacts and looks at the world around him. There is no single thing that helps autistic children learn to read. Experts often disagree on how to approach learning, and every child is different and learns differently. Autism can range in severity from very moderate and highly functioning to very severe and barely functioning. Because the child has special needs, patience, determination and creativity are of the utmost importance. It is essential that a person planning on teaching autistic children reading understand the characteristics and needs of an autistic child.


Characteristics and Needs

As mentioned above, autistic children have some unique characteristics. When teaching an autistic child, you might find: * The child becomes easily frustrated because he has trouble understanding the world around him.

Difficulty developing social skills.

Disconnectivity with his environment and those around him.

Needs a schedule and easily upset at any break in routine.

Needs pressure lightly applied or desires to not be touched at all.


Reading Comprehension

Although many autistic children are able to read, some parents find that comprehension can be an area of concern. Special education teachers and parents of autistic children believe that autistic children learn best with hands on or very colorful activities. Books with pictures, audio books, and touch and feel books all work well.


Learning Words

According to Temple Grandlin, professor at Colorado State University, autistics are visual thinkers. Temple Grandlin lived in the world of autism and was diagnosed at a young age. Today, she uses her knowledge to help others. The easiest way toward teaching autistic children reading is to demonstrate words that aren't concrete. For example, a noun is typically concrete and easy for the autistic child to picture. A word such as "boy" is easy to relate to a mental image. However, words such as "up" are harder for the autistic child to picture. When teaching such words, the teacher should show the word by acting it out. Saying the word "up" and lifting the arm goes a long way toward helping the autistic child understand.


Playing on Strengths

Many autistic children are good at art, music, and computers. When teaching autistic children reading, these strengths should be looked at and interwoven into the teaching method. An autistic child who likes computers will be more focused on a computer program created to help a special needs child learn to read than he will be on sitting at a desk in a straight-backed chair reading an encyclopedia. If a child likes music, allow him to listen to music and sing the words. Be creative and willing to try different techniques since not every technique will work with every child.


Teaching Methods

Most of the standard methods for teaching reading simply won't work for an autistic child. Temple Grandin, the high-functioning autistic woman mentioned earlier, explains that some autistic children learn to read better with phonics and others with a whole word approach and still others a mixture of the two approaches. One thing that may be of great help is testing the child to see which approaches might work best and to evaluate strengths and weaknesses.


Final Tips

Reinforce what the child is reading with repetition. Read books out loud, act them out, create visual aids and watch movies based on books. Don't be afraid to try new things and be patient. It may take a while when teaching autistic children reading to find the methods that work best for each individual child.

Article Source: www.kids.lovetoknow.com


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