Start with A ~ Reading and Autism

March 3, 2012 at 8:35 am Leave a comment

One of my goals to Read Across America  is to discover encouraging articles and authors to help parents and their children Autism. With all the other topics that would start with A,  Austism is closed to home for me. With two young family members diagnosed with autism, I felt that getting in touch with a  an Autism Therapist and an Author of Children’s book would be a positive word or two that children with Autism do enjoy reading.  My highlight is Louise Page,  an Autism Therapist and Children’s Book Author, I meet her on Linkedin, and it been wonderful. In a bold move I ask for her expertice and assistance to “Read Across America” with me.  Within Louise Pages’ letter she sent was a paragraph that stood out, literally popped off the page. The message blended right in with the celebration of Dr Seuss’s Birthday. ~

“Rhyming stories are nearly always a hit with children who love repetition and those who may have a tendency towards echolalia. They also provide a kind of ‘structure’ to play with, where fun stories and information can be well embedded in their ‘knowledge-bank’. Stories combined with the rhythmical ‘tone’ of prose and sometimes accompanying music can provide our child with an easier method of remembering what they have learned and/or enjoyed. Recalling the ‘information’ or substance of a story or source of information from such a book can be made more accessible, comfortably and pleasurably achieved.”

~ My first impression to encourage parents to read,  “The Cat in the Hat”. The let everything else follow. Louise provides wonderful advise to match the interest of your child with subject, textures, sounds and other activities. Here is the article for your to read and take notes.

“Reading and Autism”
By: Louise Page
M.A.I.P.C., M.A.C.A. (Australia)
Professional Counsellor
Autism Therapist
Author (Children’s books, Autism Spectrum books and articles)
Illustrator
Producer of short (story) videos for children/teens on the Spectrum

~ Many children enjoy reading books, comics, magazines and many other sources of textual and visual stimulation. But what can we do when our child on the Spectrum may not either share such enthusiasm, independently seek out the appropriate books, or a parent, friend or grandparent is unsure as to which book, for example, can offer the child an avenue of increased learning, enjoyment or even begin a journey or passion of seeking knowledge or building upon an interest?

First of all, discovering what an autistic child is intuitively or naturally interested in; a familiar character or object (such as animals, trains, planes or automobiles etc.), colour, texture, sounds or sights can form a base line of possible subject matter to seek in books.
From this basic knowledge we can combine our understanding of our child’s present language skills, comprehension and receptive abilities to formulate a potential ‘picture’ of which book may appeal to the child.

Even if an autistic child is non verbal, we must not assume that they are not receptive to being offered information, visual/picture and textual stimulation.

If we are to read to our child, we can pick a time and place when they may be willing to engage with us and the book. If they are emotionally and/or physically preoccupied with another activity or possibly an event which has upset them, their mind-space could be unable to ‘switch-off’ from such, disenabling them to focus on the attention usually required for a reading activity.

Some of the types of books available for our children’s pleasure are;

Fold out
Sensorial (textured)
Recorded/talking books (cd or cassette accompanying the printed book – story can be listened to at bedtime without having to also read the text)
Popup books (offer a third dimension)
Factual books (eg. science, “Guinness Book of Records”, technology – older children)
Factual books (animals, cooking, boats/ships, characters [e.g. Thomas the Tank Engine, Bob the Builder etc. for younger children])
Fictional picture books with age appropriate wording and catchy pictures
Mock up books of their own art work/writing pieces
Mock up scrap books of favourite pictures/photos with hand written/types words or sentences describing the content
Typing (on computer) words/sentences – converting to speech (altering the tones and voice sounds can be fun)
Painting pictures (including finger painting, stamping etc.) and painted/written ‘stories’ to go with them.
Remember too, that writing incorporates the reading of what has been written, during and after the exercise.

Don’t forget that newspapers and magazines can be a source of interest too. Some autistic children may focus on and prefer only one type of reading material, e.g. a newspaper. This is good and it is still a base of reading opportunities which can be expanded upon as time goes on with other sources.

Sometimes the white background of a reading page can be bothersome to the reader, causing varying degrees of letter/word comprehension or deciphering confusion and frustration. Clear plastic coloured overlays (placed over the book page) can reduce the ‘glare’ and ‘soften’ the visual comfort of reading the text.

Rhyming stories are nearly always a hit with children who love repetition and those who may have a tendency towards echolalia. They also provide a kind of ‘structure’ to play with, where fun stories and information can be well embedded in their ‘knowledge-bank’. Stories combined with the rhythmical ‘tone’ of prose and sometimes accompanying music can provide our child with an easier method of remembering what they have learned and/or enjoyed. Recalling the ‘information’ or substance of a story or source of information from such a book can be made more accessible, comfortably and pleasurably achieved.

As our autistic children can vary with their individual interests, skills, cognitive abilities, age, and developmental stage and so on, what will be an intriguing and suitable beginning or advancement in their reading enjoyment will be uniquely individual also.
Books which are easily handled by the child may be more pleasing to them. Such a book can travel with them in the car, in their backpack, up their jumper (pullover) or even taken to bed at night-time. Purchasing a second copy of their favourite book, to be stored away in a cupboard, can sometimes be a good idea. This can help avert any distress encountered should the original be misplaced or lost.
The child may want you joining with them in enjoying the reading of their favourite book or may prefer the occasional moment of solitude to peruse the pages as they wish. Also, providing an environment, free from distractions and sensorial clutter can improve a child’s focusing ability.

If your child is receptive to a book being read with gusto by you, where the characters and story ‘come alive’, then seize the opportunity. Some children may push you away at the beginning, part way through or when the book is finally closed. They may want to create their own characterizations and interpretations of the story and characters, either silently or completely differently to you. That, in itself, is quite ok. Allow a child to decipher the text in their own ‘time’ (cognitive processing) and interpret/connect the pictures in their meaning and association to the text. An impatient reading ‘helper’ can cause a ‘shut-down’ and rejection of you and the book and a wonderful, calm and potentially enjoyable reading experience can be lost in the moment and/or impact attempts for hours, days, weeks to come.

Engaging the interest in a book in whatever fashion is a good aim and ownership of the exercise and enjoyment can be the child’s alone or in a moment of togetherness with us.

Some autistic children thrive on simply illustrated and minimally worded books, whilst others may be engrossed in books which provide heaps of information and more complex illustrations, photos or diagrams.

Choosing a book on behalf of your autistic child can be an exercise of trial and error. But being guided by their natural interests, your observations of what makes them laugh or gain pleasure, understanding their cognitive abilities, things which catch their attention and intrigue will be a good start in your search for the right books. Occasionally providing subjects/stories different to their usual interests can also offer an opportunity to expand their knowledge and enjoyment of books. It may even open up a whole new window of learning opportunity and excitement in discovering the plethora of interesting ‘things’ life has to offer the developing young mind’s mental library.

Louise Page
M.A.I.P.C., M.A.C.A. (Australia)
Professional Counsellor
Autism Therapist
Author (Children’s books, Autism Spectrum books and articles)
Illustrator
Producer of short (story) videos for children/teens on the Spectrum

Special Offer to Be Green : Read Across America begins with Dr Suess Birthday, who will read “Read with the Trees” with Lorax? The Theme is “green”. What does that mean to you? For myself being green would be to take advantage of the new EBooks formates. From Kindle to Sony each day there seems to be a new App for downloading great books for children to read. So I want to share with you a green moment. Here is a coupon code for Darby’s Story EBook ~

Enter this coupon code BU93U (not case-sensitive) receive your Kindle or Epub to PDF.

 Darby’s Story is offering a 40% off coupon for the 7 #ebook formates provided on http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/94182

This 40% off coupon is good for the next 40 days, expires March 30, 2012.

Take the Pledge here is the link :http://www.readacrossamerica.org/?cat=5

Happy Tails ~ Martha

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Entry filed under: award winning books, best books to read, Uncategorized. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Happy Birthday Dr Seuss Grateful for “B” Brookwood

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