When teaching your child to read, keep in mind that every child is different. What works for another child may not work for your child. What you need to do is to focus on your child’s interest, strengths and weaknesses. What does he like? What helps him focus? What will encourage him to read? What will prevent him from wanting to read? Focus on these things to find the right approach for your child.
Below are some tips to help you teach your child to read –
1. Provide a Conducive Learning Environment
When reading to your child, it is always a good idea to find a place which is free of any distractions, whether visual or auditory. Choose a room that is quiet and does not contain any visual distractions such as posters, paintings, toys, etc. You want your child to be able to focus on the book you are reading. You do not want him to be overstimulated by the sights he sees and the sounds he hears.
If you feel that your child is already craving for some sensory stimulation, you can take a short break and engage him in some sensory activities. You can go back to reading after his senses have been stimulated. In most cases, you will find that the short breaks in between the reading exercises will help him focus more during reading time.
2. Capitalize on Your Child’s Interest
Every child has a special interest. Using the child’s special interest can help capture your child’s attention and encourage him to read with you. If your child is interested in trains, it is a good idea to select books that focus on trains.
3. Select Appropriate Reading Materials
When choosing reading materials for your child, you need to take your child’s learning style into consideration. You need to keep in mind that not all children are the same. While majority of children with autism are visual, there are also some children with autism who find visual learning very challenging. For some children, auditory or kinesthetic teaching methods work best. Understand your child’s learning style and use this to your advantage.
4. Use Technology
Studies have shown that children with autism do well when using computer programs that teaches them how to read. Due to this, more and more parents and teachers are using technology to assist them in teaching children with autism to read. Some of the programs you can use are Kidspiration, Computhera, Click N’ Read Phonics.
5. Reward Your Child
Positive feedback and timely rewards go a long way when it comes to encouraging your child to read. Simple prodding such as saying “good job” or showing non-verbal gestures that indicate he is doing well will entice your child to continue reading.
When rewarding your child, do not limit yourself to presents. Rewarding your child for reading a book does not have to be expensive. You can reward your child by letting him choose the next book or by giving him more play time.