Monday, January 31, 2011

In the Beginning

Find the Teddy (Find it board books)

Writing my 100th post today (please, hold 
the applause) puts me in a reflective mood
about how my young reader began.
I read to my boy from the start. Even before the
start actually, since I read aloud to him when I
was pregnant. I remember reading But Not the 
Hippopotamus to him when he was two weeks
old. He eventually grew tired of that one, 
though I never did.
My son, like many children, 
showed no signs of autism (unless you count
precocity) until he was about 18 months old. 
Here's what I wrote about his reading just before 
the time he started losing words and gestures:

1/5/2002 (1 year, 6 months) He refers to most of his books by title 
"Find the Teddy" & "Baby Frens" 
for instance, and can 'read' parts of them to us. 

1/8/2002 My boy used to "read" his books aloud like this 
"abeba da dee do." 
Now he reads them like this 
"I see airplane. I see frog. I see fren."

He enjoyed reading to us then and had no
problems with focus. We're long past 
declarative fully illustrated sentences now.
He would rather ponder page minutiae that
I don't even notice than read with me and
rarely makes the expected connections.
But he still loves books.

Blue Hat, Green Hat

I think we can do that for all our kids,
non-verbal or hyperlexic, read with
them early and give them a love of
If you have a book-resistant kid,
write in-we need to share our stories
in every sense of the word.
Okay, you can applaud now,
prompting another 100 posts. 
Or better yet, comment.
-Spectrum Mom

Monday, January 24, 2011

Reading for Children with Autism Links

Caps for Sale Big Book (Reading Rainbow Book)
I tweet therefore I am a  .  .  .
Anyway, today "asdhelp" posted an interesting tweet
about guided reading. Effective reading instruction for my 
son is my holy grail and I'll write more on this soon.
Another post on the same site suggested using symbols 
(such as boardmaker provides) in books with repeated lines. 
These books help all children start to make the leap into 
reading and are especially helpful for those children 
having trouble "cracking the code" -
translating letters into words. 
Here's a link to a list of books with repeated lines:
The Three Billy Goats Gruff
My boy's favorite repeated line was the trit trot of the 
Billy Goats Gruff story. He is an absurdist (like me)
and enjoys repeating words that sound good to him 
whether or not they convey meaning to anyone else. 
The book list is long, and we've only read a few,
but here are some that worked for us when he was
a pre and beginning reader (he would still rather read 
picture books, but that's another post).
Brown, M.                        Goodnight Moon
Carle, E.                            The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Eastman, P.                        Are You My Mother?
Galdone, P.                      The Gingerbread Man
Guarino, D.                       Is Your Mama A Llama?
Scieszka, J.                           The True Story of the Three Little Pigs!
Sendak, M.                           Pierre
Sendak, M.                           Chicken Soup With Rice
Slobodkina, E.                      Caps For Sale
Seuss, Dr.                             My Many Colored Days      
Seuss, Dr.                             Green Eggs and Ham
Seuss, Dr.                             The Cat in the Hat
Wood, A.                             The Napping House

Read happy!
-Spectrum Mom

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Perfect Book

Peter and the Wolf

We introduced Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf 
recording to our son early, before he started rejecting 
most music that he does not make himself.
When he found the Raschka picture book in the library
in 2009, he immediately liked the playful spilling of the
words across the page and how Raschka used
nonsense words to represent the musical motifs
of the animals, a kind of instrumental onamatopoeia.
He found it again about two months ago 
and said "I found the perfect book."
Here is what my son wrote when I
asked him to describe the book.
"This book is called Peter and the Wolf.
It has people saying things in it.
I love the book because their saying is like singing.
The bird says things like "P-Peter."
The duck says like "Aeiou."
Peter says things like "Lovely, large, lovely", 
and "Perfect, most perfect."
The hunters say stuff like "We are the men." 
and "We caught the wolf.""

Friday, January 14, 2011

Non-Fiction for Children with Autism

Scholastic Atlas of Weather

I often read that non-fiction appeals more to 
young readers with autism than fiction does.
I wish that the writers would specify more about
the readers and what their specific diagnoses are,
as I suspect that this is especially true of young 
readers with Asperger's.
Non-fiction makes a strong appeal to a 
logical mind that sometimes motivations,
emotions and behavior confusing. On the
other hand, books without narratives can
be extremely challenging to young readers
who need a logical progression from page
to page. I know there are blends of the two
for adults-perhaps someone knows of a book
that balances fact and narrative well for kids?
My son is working on a science project about a
stream, so we've dipped into the Scholastic Atlas of Weather
Here is what my son learned about water and weather:
"Water is found everywhere.
Rain falls from nimbostratus clouds that cover the sky.
Heavy rain falls from cumulonimbus clouds.
Water droplets encounter warm air followed by cold air to make ice    
Ice crystals fall to the ground in Winter."
At first he wrote,  "I swim in water in Summer.
Water is beautiful." 
He could not remember anything he had
read. So I asked him to sit with the book
next to him and write five sentences from
As you can see, so far we have not found
a non-fiction book that interests my son.
-Spectrum Mom

Monday, January 10, 2011

Dick King-Smith

Chewing the Cud: An Extraordinary Life Remembered by the Author of Babe: The Gallant Pig
Just read* about Dick King-Smith's death. I wish I had written to thank him.  My boy and I read several of his books when my son was eight (see May post), and I consider him one of 
the best writers for that age, whether or not your child has a diagnosis. If your kid likes animals, s/he will probably like 
Clever Lollipop
"I read this book from December 6-17, 2009. I liked it because of the  first chapter. I liked the things about reading and weeding. Lollipop is in it as in the book Lady Lollipop."
That's my son's review. He thinks only the first chapter of 
Clever Lollipop as good as Lady Lollipop, and I agree, but Lady Lollipop is exceptionally charming.
Lady Lollipop  
The short chapters and plentiful illustrations make this 
a great choice for beginning or struggling readers. And 
who could resist the story of how a humble pig becomes a valued member of the royal family?
Thank you Dick King-Smith. You will be long remembered.
-Spectrum Mom

*Kara Schaff Dean 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Finally! A girl and her favorite books.

Animal Boogie Fun Activities
You may have noticed that when I talk
about specific readers, I'm talking about
boys. That's because I have a boy and 
up to now the only parents to volunteer
book picks have had boys too.
Statistically that makes sense, but
there are a lot of girls out there with
autism and I want to make sure they
have some book choices especially
for them. 
So I'm thrilled today to post picks from
the book selling mom of a little girl
with autism.
Animal Boogie (Hardcover with CD)
"My daughter is 8 years old and has 
She loves the following books:Animal Boogie and 
The Journey Home from Grandpa's PB w CD (Sing Along With Fred Penner)
The Journey From Grandpa's House 
(these come with a CD, she loves the songs).
Secret Seahorse (Hide-And-Seek Books (Barefoot Books))
Secret Seahorse, she is very tactile and loves this book 
because of the fabric collages in it.
Who's in the Garden?
Who's In the Garden and 
Who's in the Forest?
Who's in the Forest (these are peek-a-boo books 
and she spends a lot of time reading these because 
she likes opening the flaps)."
If you want to know more about these books or 
purchase them from the mom, click below. 
Step Inside A Story!
And please, if your child has a favorite, or loves
a book I've already mentioned, share!
Let's expand the data set folks.
-Spectrum Mom