Due to his Autism, one thing Garrett has always struggled with is reading. Originally, we weren't sure if he would ever be able to read due to his ASD but over the years he has worked hard and does read. However, he 's still not at the level of reading that I think he could be at, even with his diagnosis.
We've been working hard on reading with the kids, mostly focusing on phonics. But let's admit it, when it comes to phonics, English is confusing for kids. Why is BIND pronounced B-EYE-ND but WIND is pronounced WAHY-ND and how do we explain to them when these changes in vowel sounds occur? We try to teach them to sound out words but this only works if the word follows the set rules and can be sounded out. Many words just don't follow the norm.
ASD Reading is a browser-based reading that understands that phonics and sounding out words will work only with limited success. It is designed by Dr Marion Blank who is a world-renowned expert on literacy. ASD Reading requires no prerequisite skills - even those who are nonverbal can use the program and provides customized instructions that adapt to your child's skills to read, write and comprehend the written language.
The program is very thoughtfully presented with cute backgrounds, rewarding animations when children answer questions correctly, changing scenery and engaging activities. With a child like Garrett who easily bores, this was exactly what he needed to keep his attention focused on what he was doing. Lessons are fairly short (taking about 10-15 minutes a day) but geared towards learning letter locations on the keyboard as well as repetition, recognition, and recollection of words.
It is recommended that the student uses the program for at least 4 days or more a week, with 1-2 sessions each day in order for the program to work most optimally.
How We Used It:
Garrett has become significantly more independent when it comes to using the computer during his school time, so after the initial login and set up required by me, I simply put a link to ASD Reading on the Bookmark Bar so that Garrett could easily access the program. Then, each day I would just tell him "Garrett, go to your Dinosaur program" (The animation at the beginning of each lesson is of a dinosaur) and he could log in on his own.
Each level consists of 6 books containing activities that help students learn to read, spell and write words used in each book. Each book builds upon the previous learned book, helping to build word recognition and also helps to build confidence. These activities include things such as asking the child to first type a word they might already know.
If they do not know the word, then the activities gear towards repetition and recognition to help the child become familiar with the word before moving on to the next word. Then, when the original word is repeated in the sequence, the student is quickly able to recognize the word.
Garrett seems to enjoy almost all of the activities he's encountered with ASD Reading, with one exception - the typing skills activity show in the picture above. While he has a pretty good understanding of letter placement on the keyboard, he does find the task tedious as he gets bored with it very quickly as it typically involves around 80-100 keystrokes at a slow pace.
Some of the activities are on a timer. Initially, Garrett was getting rather frustrated with the program because he was running out of time before he was able to answer the question. This is super common for Autistic kids - it takes a few seconds for those gears in their brains to engage. Luckily, a few days after we started the program, we received an email from Reading Kingdom letting us know a few tips and tricks for using ASD Reading, one of which was how to slow the program down through the parent dashboard to allow users more time to answer the questions. This was a game changer for Garrett. He went from hating the program initially to really enjoying it - with the exception to that typing skills portion.
Parents are able to see a progress report that shows how the child is progressing through the program. This shows how many days per week the child uses the program on average, as well as how they are progressing with the program. Garrett is currently still in level 1, as he works on the program once a day/three times a week (sometimes more).
Finally, a parent can choose to download a report in Excel spreadsheet format.
Overall, this program seems like a great addition to any reading curriculum for autistic students. The confidence that Garrett has achieved in word recognition has really become apparent as he progresses through the program as well as in his classwork when he has to read aloud with our other curriculum.
For more information on ASD Reading, visit their website. You can also visit them on the following social media platforms: