My son was diagnosed with autism at the age of two and a half. At that time he was non-verbal so learning to read was the furthest thought from our minds. There were so many other mountains we had to climb. Fast forward two and a half years and we can now officially say that our son is pre-verbal. We have a handful of words that help make his everyday life that little bit easier, my favourite being Mummy!
I noticed that our son was starting to recognize similar items and shapes with his love of logos, a passion that was helped along by his YouTube addiction! It started with the word Mastercard and every time our card was produced he would vocalise his version of Mastercard. It was a massive step forward but it could also be quite embarrassing as our son let everyone in the shops know how we were paying for our purchases.
I never really thought about how this love of logos could be moved onto reading until we were watching morning television and our son vocalised Lorraine when the channel information popped up on the screen. I wondered if he was starting to sight-read.
I had heard about children on the autistic spectrum learning to sight-read by using the audio descriptions on the TV, but was my son ready for this? Was reading really going to be in his future?
My thoughts were confirmed at his parents evening when they confirmed that they had been starting to introduce high-frequency words when reading. The words they had introduced were ‘the’, ‘and’, ‘a’ and ‘I’. My son had to point these words out to the teachers whilst they read to him. His teachers were very impressed with the progress he had made in such a short space of time.
Not wanting our son to forget this skill we have continued to work on his high-frequency words over the summer by using the StoryBox magazine. I have been reading each page to my son and then asking him to point out the high-frequency words on that page. Sometimes if I am really lucky he will attempt to vocalise the words he is looking for.
He really enjoys this activity as it makes reading a game, therefore making learning to read a fun thing to do. It is fantastic to know that it is also something we can enjoy together, it is such a bonus for a little boy who can sometimes be hard to engage with.
I never imagined that at five that I would be able to talk about my son starting to read, especially when he still has such a long way to go with his speech and communication.
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