Reading — From dream to reality
I am the mother of a nonverbal boy with severe autism.
It was very important to me that my son be able to read:
- I can accept that he has severe autism
- I can accept that he is nonverbal
- I could not accept that he would go through life not knowing how to read
It took me a long time and many hours of work. I made many mistakes. Eventually I succeeded. Here are the steps I used to teach my son to read:
- Make sure foundation skills are in place
- Use Direct Instruction reading programs
- Provide lots of supports and lots of opportunities to practice
- Use TAGteach to deliver precise, in-the-moment positive reinforcement for correct responses.
Step One: make sure foundation skills are in place
The skills a child with autism will need to begin reading instruction include the ability to sit at a table for at least 15-20 minutes and the ability to respond to questions or complete tasks (this is generally achieved through an ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) or VB (Verbal Behavior) program).
During the pre-reading instruction, I focused on increasing the range of sounds my son could produce, and mastering as many labels of objects and actions as possible: such as cat, dog, house, running, sitting, sleeping and so forth.