Reading and ASD
My son loves his books. He memorised many of his favourite stories. Children on the spectrum are quite often hyperlexic and develop a particular interest in books, pictures and words. I think the reason for this is the predictability of the letters and the written words. They always mean the same thing. No reading into people’s tones or facial expressions, just plain and simple the same meaning every time. Even though Bobcat was practically non-verbal till the age of 2 and half, we knew that he recognised all the letters, numbers, colours and shapes even at the early age of 18 month old. He pointed at the right answer all the time and he played with educational children’s apps correctly. Reading to him every day helped him to learn more about the world, even if he couldn’t speak. In our case, they played a huge role in his development, learning and knowing stories encouraged him to initiate role plays. Started in the past year, he now loves imagining being one of the characters and he loves when we pretend to play the whole story. His latest favourite is the Highway Rat from Julia Donaldson and he loves pretending to be the rat, and citing his lines, just like in the theatre. This is a fantastic improvement for us.
However, the trouble is, he more or less remained on this level for a long time now. He can recognise lots of words as a picture, he can spell out a written word by looking at it but he doesn’t understand the concept of phonics. Whilst I’m a little bit sceptic about the usage of phonics in school, this is the current way the children are being taught the read. So we better start picking it up. At the moment though, he’s just not trying to take “reading” and story time to the next level. He starts reception class in September in a mainstream school – and we are a little bit worried how will he cope.
New skills: phonics and reading
A few weeks back we have received a kind gift from Oxford Owl by Oxford Press. A lovely box of books for little children, who have just started to explore the world of the words. Containing a newly published range, called Read with Oxford books to help children learn to read, and love to read. The Read with Oxford Stages have been developed by reading experts to help you choose which books to use at home to support your child – from their first steps in phonics all the way through to being independent readers. After taking a simple test – we have found out that Bobcat will need Sage 1 books, which has been developed for 3-4 years, aimed at children who enjoy listening to stories and just began to recognise letter sounds and read simple words.
Read with Oxford books
We have received three books and a set of story games cards, with one book written by Julia Donaldson – Bobcat’s favourite author! He of course preferred this book: it contains 12 phonics stories. The stories are kept very short and simple – which are great if the child concentrates only the reading bit. Bobcat has some degree of attention deficit, so it was perfect for him. He did enjoy spotting the words (picture reading) and spelling them – and we just ventured into the world of phonics. He still wants to use his memory, but the pictures accompanying the story really help him to find hints. It was easy to reach initial success with him and he was very pleased with himself. At this stage, this is our goal: he only enjoys things he’s familiar with and can do well. So we try to make him interested in reading. All the stories are beautifully illustrated and colourful in all the books. I love the way that short words are keep being repeated throughout the stories, which helps memorising them. There is also an extended version of the stories – because the children really need to hear the whole story, it’s just more interesting for them. The Story Games Cards are flashcards and the box contains three different games. Bobcat favourite was reading the short phrases and words and matching them to characters. The aim of this package is to find 5-10 minutes when the child is willing to do some reading and turn it into a quality, enjoyable time for both of you. This works perfectly for us, so I hope, soon he’ll start to show interest in phonics too. (There are additional tips and hints available on the website.)
Here’s a little video of his the way he combines the love of numbers with reading…. and a funny bit of misspelling a word 🙂 (I find, that if he can see that I find the activity amusing, he’s more likely to join in.) It proves, that it’s a little hard to switch to phonics once he’s able to spell – but reading does’t equals spelling.
We received these books as a gift from Oxford Press.
Other good reads to find from our reviewed books: Children’s Book Review: The Wiggle Woshers And Their Stolen Hearts