Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Reading Programs for Kids with Autism

Decoding Strategies Teacher's Presentation Book (SRA Corrective Reading, Decoding B2)How to Reach and Teach All Children Through Balanced Literacy (J-B Ed: Reach and Teach) Guided Reading in Grades 3-6: Everything You Need to Make Small-Group Reading Instruction Work in Your Classroom (Scholastic Teaching Strategies) 

Reading Programs for Kids with Autism

Nothing is more important than finding the right approach to 

teach a struggling reader.

Nothing is more difficult.

Because each child with autism has unique skills and 

challenges, there can be no final consensus on any one 

method. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be even a 

preliminary consensus on teaching comprehension, a

deficit for many of our kids. 

I have heard reading curricula dismissed with scorn as for 

profit scams.

I have heard them praised as highly effective tools. 

But nobody has ever given me a list of approaches used to 

teach reading

(though many have given me suggestions-thank you!).

So here’s a highly subjective, assuredly incomplete list for you 

with links to more information.

Like everything I write here, this is a starting point.

Please correct, expand, or comment on it.

None of these programs specifically focus on kids with autism.
Comprehensive Literacy Instruction in Today's Classrooms: The Whole, the Parts, and the Heart
Reading Programs

*Balanced Literacy-this approach is a framework rather a curriculum and can include many different components like shared reading, read alouds, etcetera. 

*Comprehensive Literacy-also a set of goals rather than a curriculum, this gives the teacher considerable flexibility. Currently my son’s class is working on simile and metaphor. 

*These top two terms are so broad as to be meaningless without further information.

Guided Reading-a specific approach to teaching reading whose essential features include small groups (4-6), 
pre-reading preparation, students reading the material to themselves (w coaching), and post reading with praise, questions, and mini-lessons on reading strategy as needed. 

Lindamood-Bell (LiPS, Talkies, Visualizing and Verbalizing) LiPS and Talkies address decoding problems-like reading fluency 
and orthography. More on V and V below.

Read 180 (Scholastic) A reading intervention program set up in 90 minute sessions that includes an intro by the teacher, then rotates the students between small group work, reading modeling, and reading software work before the whole group does a wrap up with the teacher.

SRA Corrective Reading (McGraw-Hill)
This curriculum offers two strands, decoding and comprehension. They may be used separately or together.
For the comprehension piece, the teacher reads the material and gives the kids questions to answer.
Per district policy, the kids don’t read aloud to each other as a group.

Visualizing & Verbalizing tries to give kids both the ability to visualize what they read and the descriptors to verbalize the content. My son has been doing this-see my previous post on
the topic

Wilson  Addresses decoding, encoding, fluency, and comprehension with a ten-part lesson plan for use 3-5 times a week, 1-1 or small group. Uses a “multisensory” approach including a “sound tapping” system. This method seems more focused on decoding than comprehension.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Dazed and Amused

Lenny and Mel
We finished Lenny and Mel  Sunday night 
 - just in time for Valentine's Day. A holiday, 
as celebrated by Lenny and Mel, when you make 
cards to show how much you love your dog Valentine.
This enables you to avoid your teacher 
Ms. Handsaw's suggestion that you give Art Bunkleheimer 
a card that says you love him (because you don't). 
My boy giggled last night at the thought of "Valentine, the dog."
There are a lot of giggles in this book which works well 
with the great sense of silly my boy and many other kids
with or without autism possess. 
Kraft weds this to equally goofy drawings that help
tell the story and keep my kid's attention on
the page.
This is a first chapter book with some surprisingly
sophisticated words and expressions, but with 
a very straightforward approach to a school year
in the life of two boys. They are Holidazed.
My boy's review:
"It started one Labor Day. I loved its holidays and
I liked the leftover fairy. Someone said 'I'm sick
of turkey,'  but I said 'I'm tired of turkey, it tastes
like chicken.' I liked it when they
wanted cheese for Christmas."
Actually, they did not want cheese as a 
Christmas gift. Read the book to find out
why cheese is important, or click on the
picture to see the book at Amazon, or 
check out Kraft's cute site,
or not.
-Spectrum Mom

Friday, February 11, 2011

Word Exercise

Wallie Exercises
Steve Ettinger is a fitness trainer who has worked with
school kids with and without disabilities. He sent me
a review copy of Wallie Exercises, a picture book he wrote 
(art by Steve Proctor).
Wallie Exercises is probably best suited for ages 3-7, 
but my ten year old son loved it. 
Why? Rhymes. He loves knowing what sound to

expect and will still accept any new story in rhyme 
though I'm pretty sure I will not be allowed to read it aloud again.
He gleefully exclaimed "alliteration" at
the advent of Edwin the exercise elephant. 
He was puzzled (as was I) at the abrupt transition
from home to car in the story. He turned back, 
convinced I had skipped a page. We were also confused
about the trunk stand joke, which I guess shows 
our unfamiliarity with fitness training. The story
is sweet and funny and meant to get kids moving.
Ettinger includes three exercises at the end 
of the book, which my kids really enjoyed.
My boys played "lazy tag" and giggled a lot 
two days in a row. I haven't had much luck
with kid exercise books, but I think Ettinger
could write a good one.
Thanks for the free book Mr. Ettinger, and
good luck in keeping kids active.
For more about Wallie and its creators:
Wishing you blue skies and healthy
exercise of mind and body this weekend,
-Spectrum Mom

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Blog in Review

Free Books for Your iPad and How to Find Them (4/1/10 Edition)KINDLE FREE FOR ALL: How to Get Millions of Free Kindle Books and Other Free Content With or Without an Amazon Kindle (NEW and UP-TO-DATE: DECEMBER 2010 ... Latest Generation Kindles and Kindle Apps)
When I started this blog it never occurred to me 
that I needed a book review policy. I should have 
realized that authors are as eager to find readers 
as we are to find good books to read.
So the first two authors that asked, I said sure,
send me your books if you think a ten year old 
with PDD-NOS might enjoy them.
Now these two may very well be the last two 
that ever make such a request, especially since 
Jacqueline Houtman sent me The Reinvention
of Edison Thomas two months ago and
still has not had a review.
Still, here is  my brand new just-in-case
book review policy for authors
1 Sending me your book does not mean I
will blog about it. Check the blog-does yours
seem like the kind of book my kid reads?
If not, don't send it. 
I will not write about your book unless
my kid or another kid with autism enjoys
it. And I may not be able to easily find
another reviewer. Hence, my problem
with Houtman's Edison Thomas which is a book
about a kid with Asperger's. My kid
has PDD-NOS. Currently he comprehends
about third grade level books.
He is not interested, and it took time
to find an appropriate reviewer.
2 I will not review anything not book related.
Even compliments on my fine writing will not
sway me. However if someone wants to send me an
I-Pad, I'm fine with that. You can read books on them
For those of you already gifted people with I Pads 
(or Kindles or Nooks or whatever else is out there)
I would love to know whether and what your kid with
autism likes to read with them. 
Kipling and Lewis Caroll are out of copyright, so
may be available free for such devices.
-Spectrum Mom
Update-September, 2012
This Summer I added "Talent Tuesdays"
featuring authors affected by autism 
(those with autism or a close family 
member with autism). If you want to 
be featured on Talent Tuesday, just
send me a blurb about your book and
its relationship to autism. No review
copy of the book needed. 
Email me at

Thursday, February 3, 2011

My Many Colored Days

My Many Colored Days
My boy and I first read My Many Colored Days
when he was four and I was trying to start teaching
My Many Colored Days   [MY MANY COLORED DAYS-BOARD] [Board Books]
Days is a posthumously published Seuss, 
illustrated by others, without rhymes or 
seussical whimsy. The narrator
experiences a variety of emotions which s/he
describes in color terms and examples of behavior.
We liked the book, but I never had a sense he
connected with it until I found the video.
Dr Seuss's My Many Colored Days (Notes Alive!) [VHS]
This is an original orchestral composition 
combined with computer animation and it
physically engages my child who has a whole
set of actions he must take to go along with
the music. This intrigues me, because no
one in the video instructs him to-he just
decided that this is what he will do.
I still do not know if either book or video 
help him sort out emotions, but they give
him something special.
-Spectrum Mom