Here are my top 5 tips to encourage young ASD children to fall in love with reading.
1.Let them pick what to read. Our local libraries love us. We almost always leave with 10 children's books. It works for us because it allows Tom to have a choice of what he wants to read based on whatever new obsession he has t hat week. I love the idea of teaching children to choose books on their own, regardless of their reading level. I love anything that encourages independence and I work with whatever motivated Tom to pick up that book, even if it is way above his comprehension level. Books are about so much more than words and pictures. They are about forming connections
2. Focus on sight words. Do everything you can to make them fun and playful but don't worry too much if they aren't picking it up straight away. This is a long term strategy for reading that needs to start early, way before they walk into a classroom. The more letters and words they recognise, the easier reading will be. It's not rocket science, it's repetition.
3. Make books available at play time, not just bedtime. We have books everywhere at our place. We keep them in in the playroom, in the kids’ bedroom and in the car. Bedtime is a lovely time to share stories but it is more about the senso ry stimulation they receive from being close to you than a learning experience. ASD kids respond well to using books as part of extending their play time by integrating literacy into their daily routine.
4. Read aloud. Even if it seems like they aren't listening, part of their brain is responding to the sounds of your voice. Varied tone, intonation and volume are important. Most importantly of all, it doesn’t have to be from a book. Read the paper, read the cereal packet, read the instructions on the packet meal for dinner. Get older siblings, grandparents or anyone who is willing to read aloud and then initiate a conversation with them about what they are reading. This encourages critical and creative thinking and associates books as a valued resource to facilitate easy conversation and connection with others.
5. Let them see you reading. ASD kids can be visual creatures who love to mimic others. If they see you reading, they a re more likely to do the same. Talk to them about what you are reading. Find a word they might recognise. Read varied books, magazines and online articles so they can see you use reading and books in your everyday life as an adult and they will grow to understand that even though reading might be difficult now, it will be a skill they will need when they get older so they will be more encouraged to stick with it.
If you would like to contact me, I would love to hear your top tips.