Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Drawing Dot Dot Dot

A not so secret goal of many kids' coloring books is to 
get little kids comfortable holding that crayon in a 
tripod grasp, all ready to grab that pencil and start writing.
Drawing, of course, is even better for that purpose as kids 
form shapes - ready to begin/continue shaping letters.
For many children with autism, just getting the grip right
can take years. My sixteen year old still regresses.
While some may excel at art, others struggle with the basics.
So i can doodle Dots by Travis Foster gives a welcome head 
start to many.
The premise of this drawing book is simple. 
A simple drawing on one side of the page,
the outline for the same drawing on the other side
of the page, with space for variations.
For kids who need that model, this gives them a
chance to draw an interesting picture with visualization
help. Since visualization is another hurdle for many kids
with autism, this may really help.
What about you or your child? 
What kind of coloring/art books work best?

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Little Free Library

Step outside your home and look around.

Do you see a library?

Are you sure?
Walk a few blocks and you
just might find a neighborhood
library close by.
Little Free Libraries have been
popping up for awhile, and I've
admired them from afar and online.
But until my neighbors built one,
I had no idea what a great resource
they could be.
It seems to yield endless knock knock
joke books - and if you've read this
blog often, you know how great that is for my son
with autism. Not to mention all the choices
for my younger son and myself.
Currently there are two picture books - 
Mind Your Manners B. B. Wolf and
Cockatoo, Too of which the first
seems educative and the second, fun,
with both being exceptionally suitable
for readers who might need a little 
extra help with cultural norms or might
have a special appreciation for word play.
A free little library offers a great chance for a reader
to make a choice among a limited selection of books.
And if you're into projects, you can make
your own. For more info, check here
How does your free little library grow? 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Technical Difficulties

Contrary to my profile, my son with autism is 
now sixteen. He still struggles with 
comprehension. And I struggle with my
computer and blogger. Hence, no posts
in forever. Now and then I add to the
Facebook Page, mainly local events.
Reading Comprehension is a many-
faceted beast. Most of us don't realize
that. I sure didn't. For someone with 
autism, there can be many stumbling
An early goal (age six maybe?) was
helping him differentiate between fact
and opinion. In reading, this is similar
to dividing texts into non-fiction and
fiction. This, of course, is the barest
In an old post, I talked about having him
act out texts. At this point, this is more
distracting than helpful. He is fascinated
by the envelope of meaning. If spoken, by
rhythm, rhyme, and tone. If written, by 
syllable count, chapter and page number,
and word play (including rhymes, puns,
assonance, alliteration, etcetera). 
Meaning does not interest him.
His current tutor hopes to give him the 
authorial perspective - what does the author
want to do?
Since I find this somewhat dense going 
myself (is this passage meant to inform?
explain? entertain? why can't it be all
three?) I am unsure of my ability to
assist in this enterprise. But by all means,
if he will go there, let's go!

What about you? Are you a reader with
autism, or do you have a reader with autism
in your life? Do you have questions?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Reading Programs - Fast ForWord

I only just learned that Fast ForWord existed.
It seems to be computer based. 
Info from their website below.

Early Reading Programs
While reading problems vary for ages 4 to 7, the underlying source of difficulty is almost always phonological awareness, the target of our reading programs.
Our early childhood reading programs help reading fundamentals, the cognitive and language skills required for reading fluency.
Elementary Age Reading Programs
Target: Fluency, the ability to read at natural language speed with prosody (natural speech emphasis). Fluency is important because it requires automatic, subconscious decoding, the foundational skill for reading comprehension.
Elementary age children need at least 2-3 months on Fast ForWord Language v2 and Language to Reading v2, before graduating to our reading skills programs, which cover spelling, vocabulary, decoding, and reading comprehension.
Our elementary age reading programs have a computer-game feel — levels, points, prizes — and a self-paced design that together add up to an engaged student experience.
Middle School Reading Programs
Target: Comprehension (Literal). Reading difficulties often show up in later grades as the content gets progressively more challenging. This can be due to a lack of automaticity in decoding, but can also reflect weak vocabulary or delays in essential reading comprehension skills.
Our middle school reading programs take students back to basics, building reading fluency and listening comprehension skills using Fast ForWord Literacy and Literacy Advanced. We then move students to the reading series — typically Reading Level 2, 3 and 4 — to build vocabulary, spelling and other reading comprehension skills.
High School Reading Programs
Target: Comprehension With Metacognition. If a student is a struggling reader at high school, it is generally up the parent to intervene — by this age, most schools assume students are proficient decoders, with the focus being on metacognition, self-regulated learning.
Our reading programs for high school students start with fluency, vocabulary, spelling and comprehension and then train students to think actively while reading, the ultimate reading skill.
Teenagers start with Fast ForWord Literacy and Literacy Advanced. Most high school students complete at least two programs in our reading series, typically Reading Level 3 and Reading Level 5, which work on reading accuracy, making inferences from paragraphs, and metacognition skills as required for SAT, ACT and college level reading.

Logistics and Compliance
Our reading programs can be helpful before sitting ACT or SAT, although they do require consistent effort and attendance, a challenge for some high schoolers. Older students see results quickly, in 2-3 months in most cases.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Go Hang a Salami, I'm a Lasagna Hog

In Aprils Past,
Poetry posts predominated.
(me opt poem)
and certainly we've read some
wonderful poetry.
But sillier stuff appeals
more to my son.
Jon Agee's books of palindromes 
couple ridiculous phrases with
matching silly drawings and
will delight those with a sense
of the ridiculous and anyone
who sees things backwards and
Here a few for you
to see if your gal or guy
would like to give Agee
a try.
Llama Mall
Lion Oil
Emil's Niece, in slime.
You may want to try writing your own -
you'll find out why they can be so weird 
and why Agee's funny drawings help.
The drawings define the palindromes,
and provide a context for the reader.
But I think my son would like them
even without the pictures.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Ducks in Muck - Rhyme Time

Cool Spring rain falling, 
happy duck weather, 
found some ducky rhymes.
Ducks in Muck by Lori Haskins
is an "Early Step into Reading" book
and a great easy reading book with
very few words.
The rhymes help kids read and
to have the predictability they
Short, sweet, with bright colors
and cuddly ducks, it should appeal
to beginning readers and those who
just love silly, rhyming stories.
If your child enjoys this, you
should try Duck in the Truck.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Funny Little Woman

The Funny Little Woman won the Caldecott some years ago.
It's a retelling of a Japanese folk tale that reminded my nine
year old of Strega Nona with its theme of a magical cookery
implement (A rice paddle rather than the Strega Nona pasta pot).
The battered little paperback has been sitting unloved and unread
in my house for years, and I decided it was time for it to seek 
a new home. But first I coralled the boys on the couch for
a read aloud. As usual, both protested. I threatened my neurotypical
child with an electronic device ban and told my son with autism
that even though he hadn't "planned to read" we were reading. 
It's a good read aloud. 
You may know some of my touchstones by now.
The Funny Little Woman includes:
1) illustrations that are clear and relate to the story
(they're also next to the words they illustrate)
2) minimal subtext
(adults may find some here, kids are unlikely to and the
story doesn't need it)
3) humor (giggling woman, dumpling chase, rescue by prat fall)
4) repetition (my dumpling)
 Here's another description of this book 
from a blogger who read Caldecott winners with her
girls and had them journal afterwards. She provides
a list of Caldecott winners through 2010.