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Do you have any specific guidance for teachers in helping children with autism stay on track towards becoming proficient readers and writers?

Expert answer

Students on the autism spectrum are very good at rote memorization. So they can learn to read words. The difficulty is answering questions about the stories that they’re reading. For these kids, repetition is really helpful as well as making it very relevant and meaningful to their lives. So find an area of interest for them and have them read around that.

In terms of writing, many of our students have difficulty with paper and pencil activities. And so if they have to write things out long-hand then often they’re not able to produce as much material. So, we often suggest moving to technology (keyboarding) quickly. If they’re writing and they’re having to use paper and pencil activities you’ve got two things going on: one, is they’re going to have to be giving you content in their ideas, and two, they’re going to have to be actually going through the mechanics of writing, which is difficult for them.

And again you want to think about how to make it very concrete. So if you tell students on the spectrum, ‘Write about something that interests you”, it is very hard for them to figure out what that means. And so it’s really helpful to give them a couple of ideas. “Do you want to write about politics or do you want to write about weather?” “Do you want to write about your favorite toy or do you want to write about an animal?”

So you give them things that they can choose from instead of these very wide open questions.

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