Five Tips for Helping Nonverbal Children with Autism Learn to Read
Between 44% - 52% of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder may have a learning disability [Source: The National Autistic Society]. Children on the spectrum often experience difficulties learning to speak or read, or sometimes both. For the purpose of this blog, we will focus on how parents can help nonverbal children who struggle with reading.
At Stepping Stones, we believe that with the right teaching approach, you can create a positive impact on your child’s ability to read. Here are few tips that can help:
Spend quality time with your child:
Regardless of your child’s verbal abilities, ensure that you are spending ample time reading with them. Doing so will develop your child’s language and reading skills. This creates an environment of dialogue sharing between you and your child.
Nonverbal Interactive Reading:
While you’re reading with your child, encourage him/her to interact with the story you read. This gives your child the opportunity to interact nonverbally. They can act out specific actions using toy props, pointing to illustrations or picture symbols that you’ve printed out in advance, etc.
Here are some activities you can share with your child as you read:
Start reading by running your finger just under the text, while reading, while also asking your child to point to certain words or pictures
Teach your child to turn the pages at the right time, by following your finger
Before you start reading, arrange a few story props related to the story and ask your child to act out scenes as the story unfolds
Take turns to imitate what the characters in the story are doing
Multisensory Technique to the Rescue!
Children with autism spectrum disorder have their own unique way of learning. Hence, not all children on the spectrum learn the same way. Keeping this in mind, multisensory technique categorizes children by:
Sight - Visual Learners
Sound - Auditory Learners
Touch - Hands on Learners
Visual learners understand better when they can see what they learn. Auditory learners are comfortable in hearing oral instructions and later discuss what they have learned. Hands-on learners need to touch and manipulate different objects to understand what they are learning.
Read warning signs with your child:
We suggest every parent read signs along with their child, especially all safety-related signs. You can do this when you go out for a walk with your child in your community. Show them various signs used on the roads and how to act accordingly. For example, show them the stop sign and stop along with your child. Similarly, show them crosswalk signs, exit and entrance signs, push and pull signs, etc.
Reward progress - Always!
When you reward your child’s progress, you encourage them to perform better. Prepare a chart that tracks your child’s progress, where they can paste stars or a sticker of any favorite shape. Use simple words of encouragement like “Good job!” or “Proud of you!” or “You did great,” as and when they finish tasks on time. This keeps them motivated to work harder.
1. Read together with your child
2. Understand what learning style your child is most comfortable with
3. While reading, give your child the opportunity to interact with a story or other written information in a way he/she identifies with
4. Reward your child’s progress
We hope these tips were helpful for your child.
For more information regarding sensory therapy, cognitive skills, behavioral therapy, developmental disorders, and early intervention, please contact Stepping Stones Center. We emphasize acquiring new and appropriate behaviors, while also working on helping the child achieve developmentally age-appropriate milestones through evidence-based practices.
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