Teaching Reading to Students with Autism
Certainly, autism is not categorized as a learning disability, however, it is often found that many children with autism have some form of learning disability. As autism is a neurological and developmental disorder, it affects how a person acts and interacts with others, communicates, and learns. A child or teen with autism can have concurrent learning challenges such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, or dyscalculia. Often children on the spectrum will have excellent reading and spelling skills, but may struggle with comprehension, as this ties into communication and understanding expression.
If you are homeschooling a child on the autism spectrum, reading may be one of your main concerns. The main thing to keep in mind when teaching reading is to use your child’s strengths to his/her advantage. By tying reading strategies to the areas your student excels in, you will experience less resistance and more positive results. Time4Learning’s reading approach includes visual and audio aid for students, providing multiple applicable learning styles.
Reading and Autism
Because autism affects language, it naturally affects how a child with autism will acquire reading skills. Interestingly, many students with autism — especially those with Aspergers or High Functioning Autism — read words with ease and even begin reading before their neurotypical peers.
While decoding comes easy to some of the spectrum, teaching reading comprehension to students with autism can be more challenging. The rigid thinking that often accompanies autism can make it difficult for students to understand words with multiple meanings or to use context to make sense of a passage.
How to Teach a Child with Autism to Read
Teaching reading to students with autism can be aided by the following strategies:
- Capitalizing on their visual-spatial learning style by using multimedia teaching tools
- Breaking reading instruction into manageable chunks with plenty of breaks in between
- Teaching incrementally, with each lesson building on what the student has learned in previous lessons
- Keeping instruction structured and predictable
Reading Programs for Students with Autism
When homeschooling a child or teen with autism, reading program choice is critical. Going online and simply picking the first curriculum that looks good could be disastrous for your child. He or she needs an autism reading program that is customized to maximize their unique strengths while minimizing weaknesses.
Questions to ask yourself when deciding on a program might include:
- Does my child seem to respond well to pictures or visual cues?
- Does my child seem to learn by touching or manipulating things with her hands?
- Does my child seem to learn by singing along with songs or listening to stories?
These questions will clue you into your child’s learning style and give you a huge advantage in choosing a customized program. The best reading program for autism is the one that is most aligned with your child’s specific learning needs.
How Time4Learning Curriculum Helps Students with Autism
One of the key things reading programs for students with autism should have is corresponding visuals. With the right teaching approach, children with ASD are frequently able to learn to read and write successfully. Using an interactive online environment, the Time4Learning educational learning system builds and reinforces reading skills. It can be used as core reading curriculum or a supplement to other tools.
Visual and auditory elements are highly effective in teaching a child with autism to read. Many families homeschooling a child on the autism spectrum use Time4Learning. Here’s why:
- Lessons and activities are multisensory and work with a variety of learning styles.
- The impersonal nature of computer learning is preferable to many on the autism spectrum.
- It builds on existing skills, not just in reading, but in math, science, and social studies as well.
- It allows for the placement of different grade levels in different subjects.
- New learning opportunities are introduced in a safe, supportive environment.
- Learning is balanced with fun!
Choose your subject and grade level to experience demos of Time4Learning’s interactive curriculum.
Have other questions about homeschooling a child with autism? You may find the following pages helpful.