Reading is a skill learned early on that takes years to master. For children on the autism spectrum, reading may take a bit more effort and practice. It’s a foundational step to learning and communication, which makes it crucial for academic success and independence. Beyond just the ability to read, children also need to refine their reading comprehension, or their ability to understand and process what they read by pulling out the most vital information. In this post, we discuss children on the spectrum and reading.
Like with many skills, starting to learn early on is incredibly important. Reading with your child is a great activity to build into your schedule as soon as possible. Not only is it a great bonding experience, but it also helps your child get a head start on building their listening skills, their social skills, and their reading comprehension. The books don’t need to be difficult, and the more they entice your child, the better.
Practice Often and Follow Interests
Once you’ve established reading with your child regularly, do be sure to continue it and practice reading often. Build it into your child’s schedule as often as possible after school and on the weekends. This is especially important if your child has any trouble with their reading ability as a result of some of their autism symptoms. Some of those symptoms that could impact their reading might be:
- Sensitivity to sensory stimulation and interpretation, causing sensory meltdowns or tantrums.
- Delayed developmental learning and cognition and by extent, challenges in traditional classroom settings.
- Challenges with verbal and non-verbal communication.
With these challenges in mind, it’s important to do everything you can to support your child’s development. To make practicing reading more interesting for your child, try and follow their interests by picking books that excite them most. Getting your child interested in the material is more likely to motivate them to practice their comprehension by asking questions and actively listening.
Ask Questions to Build Comprehension
After grasping the basics of reading ability your child will begin to practice their comprehension in school. Their academic curriculum will require them to not only read but understand what they are reading and use that information for critical thinking. This can be a challenge, but practice can go a long way.
As you read with your child and get them to read independently, start asking questions about the material to get their mind started. The questions don’t have to be complicated, and if your child is truly interested in what they’ve been reading, they are much more likely to retain the information. Ask questions about the characters or the plot as well as any specific details they found interesting. Not only will this sharpen their skills, but it will also help them develop their own interest in reading and maybe even take it on as a hobby.
Reward Progress and Have Patience
When it comes to practicing reading, anything is fair game. There are plenty of novels that appeal to a younger audience. Graphic novels, comics, and other books with illustrations can also add some much-needed excitement and visual stimulation for children. As your child makes progress, don’t forget to reward it with some of your child’s favorite things and activities. This process will take time, which makes patience crucial. Give your child plenty of time to ease into a book and work it into their routine. Break it up into smaller sections, ask that they get through a certain number of pages, or continue to read it with them if needed. Taking that time with your child can make a world of difference
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