Autism and Reading

I was prompted to find out about autism and it’s impact on children’s reading development when World Autism Awareness Day occurred earlier this month (April 2nd).

Autism is general term used to describe a range of developmental brain disorders. Depending on the severity of it, autism affects a child’s ability to read. There are varying levels to this disorder which would mean that children with autism will have different reading development levels. In many cases actually being able to read is not an issue rather it is the child’s comprehension of what is being read that is the problem.

Based on my readings, here are a few things to keep in mind when teaching autistic children to read:

  • Know what interests your child and use books based on these to attract your child’s interest in books and in listening to stories. It may be animals, foods,  etc.
  • Keep reading sessions short to avoid the child becoming bored, frustrated or impatient.
  • Keep distractions to a minimum and minimise noise levels.
  • Use books with bright colours and clear pictures to aid comprehension (An example is Point to Happy, a book designed specifically for kids on the autism spectrum – see a review of this book here).
  • Books that involve the child in the story (e.g. lift-the-flap, touch and feel) can help a child enjoy the reading experience.
  • Use of games and interactive books on the computer may hold the attention of some autistic children.

Resources  on Autism and Reading:

Kids and Reading: Autism

Resources on Autism and Muslims:

What, if any, has your experience been with a child who has autism learning to read or just interacting with books? I’d love to hear from you.

3 thoughts on “Autism and Reading

  1. I use Headsprout for my son. I got the first 80 episodes. It is kind of pricey but really worth every penny. He loves using the computer now and it is interactive, making him say things, click on things. Comes with books, printable books as well, and a map that he can put stickers when he finishes the episodes. He is starting to read now and enjoys it very much. they do have 3 episodes free trial if anyone want to check it out. Also there is free website called Starfall; it is really awesome. They make a word with missing letters and the child learns how to say the words. My son is addicted to it and mastered it in a week. These are great starter sites for autistic kids or any kids.

    • Thank you for sharing information about these two resources. It’s the first time I’ve heard about Headsprouts. My child used Starfall for quite a while and I think it really helped reinforced what we were learning. I like the stories and interactive activities at Starfall as well.

      Shukran for visiting and commenting.

  2. We have 4 children [28 to 20 years old now and 5 grand children. Yes High Functioning Autism [Aspergers] in everyone of them plus ourselves and our parents. So I’ll share what I can here.

    When one of our children [now 25 yrs] was 15 yrs I received a phone call from the high school. I had to ‘choose’ between remedial maths or remedial English! Since that child was 3months old I knew there was a big challenge ahead. He reads and reads well. Comprehension = very low in ratings!

    He was tested again at 2/5 years, 3 years, 4 years, 6 years, 9 years, 12 years, 15 years. ‘Stick to your guns’ – you know your children best at this age. We could not find anyone who knew what was wrong. Some had seen it all before but did not know what ‘it’ was. Others had no clue so wrote that we were making things up.

    When he was 9 he was tested yet again. This time we were told it was like he had a free way jam of information going in and a unicycle amount being sorted. Mind you once in there everything stuck like glue.

    There in lies the biggest problem. Altering concepts already set in concrete is a very large challenge and we can not do it ourselves.

    My three suggestions to all with young children are a) make reading [even of the pictures] fun, fascinating, repetitive while also connecting what is read to daily life, chores, wishes and tasks. b) while trying to keep the unworthy negatives away while also not isolating the child, teach that/those children methods and strategies of coping with change factors. c) In teaching them to find things out for themselves through reading, referencing and referrals.

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