My Family

My Family

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Teaching Our Special Needs Child to Read

     Homeschooling a special needs child can be so challenging but also so rewarding sometimes. I used to tutor children when I was in school. I usually helped those that were younger than me but were also among the worst readers in their class or grade. A lot of times, they were children who just didn't catch on how to read with the rest of their class and ended up having to just go along with each reading assignment. I found the easiest way to help them learn to read was to teach them basic phonics skills. Our youngest son has been diagnosed with autism and reading delay. When it was time to start teaching him to read, I tried phonics since it had been so successful in the past. Well, guess what? Each and every time we worked on reading both of us were near tears! After trying phonics for a couple weeks, I went on the internet and searched for something that was designed to teach reading to special needs children. The program wasn't cheap but we found a way to get it. Once we got the program, I spent about a week reading over how to use it. For a couple months, we were doing fine but by the time we got to a certain point we came to a screeching halt. I called the company to see if they had any suggestions on how to continue going forward but pretty much everything they suggested, I had already tried. After trying and trying and trying to work through the step that had us stumped for more than a month. I finally remembered my mom showing me a copy of my grandmother's McGuffey Reader years before. I did a search to see if they were still available and was lucky to come across a wonderful site that posts books whose copyright has expired. I was able to download the entire collection for free!
     We've been using McGuffey Readers for about a year and a half. We took a summer off but when we started back at the end of the vacation, our son had forgotten just about every lesson he had heard so we had to start over again from nearly the beginning of the book. I believe our son is a kinetic learner, he does best when he has things like manipulative to work with. I designed my own flashcards with a word processing program that allows me to make a flashcard for each new word that is introduced in each lesson. I have our son do various activities like putting words in alphabetical order, using a word in a sentence, and matching the words to definitions.
     The good news is that after about a year now, our son is almost finished with the first reader. He's still not confident with his reading abilities. He's actually much better at reading than he thinks he is. We're trying to encourage him to read on his own. One thing we're doing is giving him extra time to play on his Wii for every book he reads. Another thing we're doing is having him read every other sentence at night instead of reading his books to him.

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