While any child can struggle with reading, children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can face distinct challenges. This means you might need to use specific techniques to guide them along their reading journey.
Reading improves communication and language skills, and because ASD can affect these areas of development, it’s important to have access to resources that can help your child during this process. By following a few of the below examples, nurturing a love of learning won’t be so daunting.
Follow Their Interests
You can most likely relate to the feeling of having to read or watch something you have no interest in. It’s hard to concentrate, and you might find yourself getting distracted. It’s also just plain boring! While kids are naturally curious, they can establish set interests fairly quickly and might not want to deviate from them. This can be especially true with children who have ASD, as having restricted interests is fairly common.
When it comes to children learning how to read or encouraging them to read, you’ll find more success if you follow their interests. Choose kids’ books and topics that your child is excited about. If they love the ocean, find ocean books! If they’ve shown interest in music or love listening to music, incorporate this into story time. It seems very simple, but it’s an important step that might be accidentally overlooked, especially if you’re just learning the ropes.
Use Multisensory Techniques
You’ve most likely heard of the different styles of learning, and may even know which ones work best for yourself. The most common ones are visual, auditory, verbal, and kinesthetic. Generally, people tend to rely on two or three learning styles, but in some cases, children might favour (or even depend on) just one. Because children all learn differently, it’s helpful to experiment with the senses to find out what learning styles work best for your child.
Some children are visual learners and benefit from seeing examples of what is being taught; this can be in the form of pictures, whiteboards, or diagrams. Others are auditory learners and prefer to listen to lessons or books. Sounds, music, and rhyme are also great things to incorporate in story time.
Hands-on learners thrive when they can hold or touch objects. Writing letters with rice or using letter magnets are techniques that can be useful when learning new words. Puppets are also a great hands-on tool that can be very engaging. Verbal learners usually enjoy discussing what they’ve just learned to fully understand new concepts, words, or stories. They might even benefit from reading to you during story time.
It’s important for all children to begin their reading journey early, but it’s especially important for children with ASD. Getting them used to opening up a book and reading with your guidance helps reinforce their reading routine. Sharing books at a young age can help with social skills, as they can talk about their favourite characters with their friends or other children in their age group. It’s also a great way to expand their vocabulary and widen their interests.
Positive encouragement and rewarding any progress will go a long way during this time. It’ll help your little one to feel a sense of achievement while tackling any hurdles.
Many children grow attached to a specific book, so it’s ok to repeat the same story. After a while, you can suggest that they read it to you, which might offer them a new challenge. It’s also a great opportunity to ask them what they like about the book to dive deeper into their interests.
Fostering a love of learning in your child might sound daunting, but you have support along the way. There are plenty of resources available to help you, and it’s important to know that you’re not alone.
By going slow and taking cues from your little one, you can help them on their reading journey.
Kidsbooks.com has an assortment of genres, subject matters, and skill levels to get you and your child on the way to story time fun.