Monday, August 30, 2010

Storytime is always special

Dog's Noisy Day

Every kid should get to go to storytime at the 
library.  The best have songs and movement,
even the worst have other kids.

But what if you don't feel welcome?
What if your child looks or acts 
differently than others? Or what
if you just don't know how your
child will react?

A smart mom homeschooling her
beloved son with autism not only
started a playgroup for kids with
special needs, she suggested to
a friendly and skilled librarian she
offer a special storytime.  I hope
both the mom and the librarian
will share more about that on
this blog.

The first storytimes went extremely
well and more are planned.
The librarian read Dog's Noisy
Day at one and Dog's Colorful
Day at the next.
Dog's Colorful Day: A Messy Story About Colors and Counting (Picture Puffins)
I still bring my boy to storytimes
sometimes with his little brother.
In a way, my hope that he would
"grow out of" autism served me
well since I never considered not
taking him to storytime.

For the most part his behavior
fell within the range of that
expected, when it didn't, we
left. And hey, that's true for
his younger brother as well.

I think this special storytime
is a wonderful idea, not because
most kids with special needs
need a separate time, but because
the event gives the parents a 
chance to see what will happen
in a completely supportive 
environment where no
one will direct the glare
of judgement at them if
their child is loud or does
something odd.

Also, what a great chance
to find friends for both
the big folks and the little!

your friend,
-Spectrum Mom

Friday, August 27, 2010

Falling back . . . to Spring ahead?

The Warrior Maiden (Bank Street Level 3*)

When grade level reading challenges your child with autism, 
what books do you read together? What books do you hand 
over to the child to read on his/her own?
How easy is too easy?

These are not rhetorical questions. 
I hope you will think about them, and, if you have the time, 
share your answers here.

We constantly negotiate the answers at our house. 
As you might expect, we choose harder books for 
school assignments.

At the library, our boys go free range.
Despite my attempts at steering,
my older boy still goes to the 
picture books. Often he heads
straight for the same ones he
read in first grade.

Since I want him to think of the
library as a refuge, I don't push
too hard there. But what about 
at home?

Captain Underpants And The Invasion Of The Incredibly Naughty Cafeteria Col

Well, that depends. We usually
stick with a series he has liked.
Right now he and his dad are
reading a Captain Underpants.
(I do not recommend Captain
Underpants if your child
has symbol decoding trouble.
The spelling is deliberately 
atrosh .  .  . atroche .  . . 

The other night we read The
Warrior Maiden (Bank Street). 
He could have read this nice
book from a nice series in 
second grade. Maybe
he understands more of the
story now.

Sometimes my son will
have to struggle and reading
will be hard. All the more
important, then, to sometimes
take words easy.

Take two stories and read me
next week,

-spectrum mom

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Imagining the World-Concept Imagery

Visualizing and Verbalizing: For Language Comprehension and Thinking
If your child reads words easily and well,
your child understands symbol imagery.
Children with dyslexia struggle with
symbol imagery.
If your child comprehends what they read,
your child understands concept imagery.
Children with hyperlexia may struggle
with concept imagery.
So, anyway, posits one school of thought
about reading.

Children (with or without autism) 
may struggle with either, both, or neither.

Symbol imagery receives the most attention
in reading programs. But children with
Asperger's or HFA (high functioning autism)
frequently struggle not to read the words, 
but to make sense of the whole.

That's my son.
He has completed a school year of Bell's 
Visualizing and Verbalizing sessions. Unlike
the claims on the website, his reading 
comprehension has not jumped back up to
grade level.
Instead, he reads slower and more carefully.
He knows the author wants him to enter
the world of the book and he sometimes
says he is trying to imagine or see something
described.  Like an elephantElephants: A Book for Children
or night. When di Camillo described a 
purple night sky, he went in and out
of the house with us every 45 minutes
to try to find a time when the sky looked
Purple Skypurple.

-Spectrum Mom

Monday, August 23, 2010

Giggle Poetry

I'm Still Here in the Bathtub: Brand New Silly Dilly Songs When I wrote about poems 
before I explained their appeal for Mary Had a Little Jam and Other Silly Rhymes
my son is their predictability.  But although
at one point he read any rhyming book, he
prefers nursery rhymes and nonsense poems.

Fortunately, goofiness appeals to most
children and the supply of silly poetry
shows no signs of running out.

The two books posted above by Alan
Katz and Bruce Lansky entered our
lives at an elementary school book
fair and remain favorites for him
to read to himself.  About two 
years ago he no longer wanted
us to read anything that rhymed
aloud. I'm still not sure why.

The other night while trying to
keep my two angels from
1) the house
2) each other
I found the website
which I highly recommend
for your silly poetry fans.
My Teacher's In Detention: More Kids' Favorite Funny School Poems

I think Lansky started the
site, but it includes the work
of several poets including
school kids after a Lansky

The site also includes silly
fill in the blank Yankee
Doodle poems and poetry

If you find your sweet kid acting silly,
it's best to join in willy nilly,
with a poem or a rhyme,
at least some of the time,
you'll find your way smooth and less hilly.

-Spectrum Mom

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Research Redux

Large 4" Magnifying Glass 3X Optics
Why do we know so little about teaching
reading comprehension to children with

Because there have been very few studies.
The study I mentioned last time by Chiang
and Lin (2007) searched for research on the 
topic. Of 754 studies that touched on autism 
reading, only 11 included at least one 
participant with autism, 
focused on reading comprehension, and 
used an experimental model to test
the effectiveness of the method.

Add in the fact that reading
comprehension meant either sight word
recognition or text comprehension,
and it becomes obvious why there
is no consensus (to put it mildly)
on how to teach text comprehension
to children with autism.

For the most part, all methods
-which ranged from flashcards
to peer tutoring to the 
UCLA reading & writing
program to computer instruction - 
helped students learn "targeted skills."

This is good news, because
all the interventions showed results. 
But as a guide to what to do, 
these studies all fall short since
there is no comparison
and so no indication
what intervention
works best.

And the authors found
no0, zilch  studies on 
teaching reading comprehension to 
students with Asperger's,
and little on students
with high functioning

Next post, silly poems.

-Spectum Mom

Thanks to Kayla Jackson (Speech Therapist/
Independent Consultant/Brown Center)
for bringing this article to my attention.
If you would like to read the article in
full, check

Monday, August 16, 2010

Autism Reading Comprehension Research

Autism and Reading Comprehension: Ready-to-use Lessons for Teachers
The slightly punny title of this blog
(thank you Leisa*) 
may lead 
(have led) 
(will at some point lead)
- ever read the hilarious bit
on time-traveling and 
subjunctive future gerunds
by Douglas Adams? -
or mislead some
into thinking this blog
discusses books about

For the most part I
discuss kids' books
that my boy or I 
have liked, or that
I feel work well for 
kids with reading challenges.

But the start of school
and an article I'm reading
for about the third time
influence me to include an 
actual "autism read." 

I have not read the above
book, but it's the only one 
I found on Amazon to
specifically address
reading comprehension
and autism.

The article by Chiang
and Lin is Reading 
Comprehension Instruction
for Students with Autism
Spectrum Disorders: A
Review of the Literature.

I'll try to summarize
the article soon, but
one main point is that
"reading instruction
for students with autism
has been underemphasized"
and so has research.

This may help explain
why helping my son
read seems like uncharted
territory despite the 
thousands who must
have travelled this
path before.

Still, as Mr. Adams
would say, 
"Don't Panic"

Instead, comment
and share your thoughts
and experiences. 

The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

I know where my towel is.

The management would
like to offer apologies to 
those who found the
last sentence baffling,
irrelevant, or just plain
stupid. We would like
to say that this is an
aberration, but we
don't want to lie.
This time, we'll blame 
the strain of writing 
that academic
journal title.

-Specttrum Mom


Saturday, August 14, 2010

School Days

Dodger for President (Dodger and Me)

Since my oldest boy's 
(did I tell you he's ten now?)
school starts ridiculously
early, we're back to
ordinary days, and I
should be posting 
more frequently.

Anyone miss me?

Dodger and Me

So-getting through
Dodger and Me with any
sort of comprehension 
took seven weeks. 
Eventually my husband
settled on a schedule
of reading one day
and answering 
questions the next.

This took over an hour,
sometimes two.

This was a suitable book
in many ways. But
my son needs help 
understanding concepts
other kids know through
osmosis and not all
explanations stick.

Still, he knows the
characters now, so
we'll try the sequels
at some point.

-Spectrum Mom