Teaching Kids With Autism to Read Using Play and Games
The best you can bring to the reading adventure is your imagination, All parents of all children are teachers. It doesn’t matter how old your child is, how well she does in school, or how popular he is. Kids look to their parents as their primary models and teachers.
Parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), have an extra set of challenges. While the specific milestones are the same for every child, dads, and moms of kids with ASD need special helping skills.
The best you can bring to the reading adventure is your imagination, sense of humor, and your love of reading. Playing with a child with ASD can be enjoyable and enlightening. That playtime is also fertile ground for planting the seeds of reading.
First Steps Are Essential
If you have a child from infancy to 2 years old, these first steps are the same for all. No one knows who’s got ASD now. Every kid needs the same thing, connecting pictures with words and words with specific items. How do we make that fun?
Channel your inner actor. Actors and comedians make stuff fun; it’s their job. Parents of very young children have the same assignment. Take boring words like dog, log, eye, and ball and turn them into acts that will have ‘em screaming in the aisles.
Animals are perfect for these exercises. Get large pictures of cows, elephants, monkeys, and such and apply them on a wall at eye-level. When your child walks or crawls to a picture, point at it and say the name. Later, use the sounds.
Dolls are great teachers. Give each doll a name. Say the name is Judy. Say, “Judy, do you want a cookie?” Let your child answer for Judy then feed it a cookie, real or a toy. When it’s your turn, feed Judy the cookie to her ear or foot.
Play Sets and Villages can be used for years. You should agree on the right sound for each piece, the cars, the trucks, etc. They should all be given a name, jobs, and personalities. One always forgets to get gas; another always runs stop signs. This play will help your child predict action as a story moves along, an essential skill.
Look Everywhere for Opportunities
We all want our children to be good readers. The research says that the physics of recognizing letters doesn’t correlate with reading ability. It’s possible for a child to read a complicated word, yet have no understanding of its meaning. This is particularly true of kids with ASD. If you can do one thing to help your ASD child read better, conquering this problem would be key.
Chall’s Six Developmental Stages of Reading is an excellent guide to parents. It lays out in simple language the stages of learning to read from infancy through high school.
Every child takes the same journey. Some are quicker than others, but the trip is worthwhile.