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Reading and Phonics Programs for Autistic Kids

by Kristina de la Cal, studioD

Imagine trying to learn how to read, build any intellectual skill or make sense of things in a world that doesn't seem to speak your language. That is what learning is generally like for kids with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) who are taught in conventional ways. The best reading and phonics programs for autistic kids are those designed specifically to meet the unique needs of this special population.

ASD Learning Style

The majority of kids with ASD are primarily visual learners who tend to struggle with auditory skills. According to the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, most autistic kids are 90% visual learners and only 10% auditory learners. Autistic kids also benefit from kinesthetic activities that allow them to learn while doing. Since conventional reading and phonics instruction is typically geared for auditory learners, it is largely ineffective for kids with ASD. Reading and phonics programs designed for kids with autism are most effective when they present information visually and provide opportunities for kinesthetic reinforcement of skills. Multi-sensory methods of instruction are ideal because they cater to all learning styles.

Reading Horizons

Using a multi-sensory approach, the Reading Horizons Program delivers explicit and sequential reading and phonics instruction that allows autistic kids to master simple concepts first and reinforces each skill while gradually moving on to more complex concepts. Reading Horizons focuses on the visual strengths of autistic learners by offering visual cues to aid the learning of sounds and words.

PCI Reading Program

The PCI Reading Program is ideal for visual learners like autistic kids because it relies heavily on visual discrimination of word parts and whole words. In each of the program’s three levels, learners are given explicit instruction with ample opportunities for practice and assessment of skills. The phonics system and word recognition training within the PCI Reading Program use repetition and hands-on practice to help transform nonreaders into readers.

See the Sound

The See the Sound Program consists of a visual phonics system that helps autistic and other nonverbal learners to master phonics by using hand cues and symbols to represent sounds. A unique hand cue is linked to each of the 46 sounds found in the English language. The connection between each hand cue and its corresponding sound is reinforced by a written symbol that depicts the hand cue.

Reading Rocks

Reading Rocks caters specifically to visual learners who struggle with phonics. The Reading Rocks program harnesses the visual strengths of its learners by teaching through pictures, magnetic shapes, flashcards and activity sheets. Autistic kids benefit from the Reading Rocks Program because it gives them an opportunity to be visually and physically involved in each learning activity.

About the Author

Kristina de la Cal is a full-time teacher who has been freelance writing since 1991. She published her first book, “Breaking up without Breaking Down," in 2007 and specializes in a variety of topics including, but not limited to, relationships and issues in education. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Florida International University.

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