1. Give your whole class the same starting line. When working with children who have learning disorders, and especially those with autism, many teachers are tempted to create specialized curricula for them. All kids should be taught according to the curriculum used by the school. Those who need extra help or accommodations can be offered these as necessary or as specified in IEPs. Autism tends to largely impact a student’s ability to communicate, so the use of reading programs for special education from Essential Skills can enhance lessons learned in the classroom.
2. Use direct instruction. Children with spectrum disorders often have difficulty with abstract language. By using direct instruction with visual support, you can help new concepts become clearer to them. In addition, structure and repetition are used in many reading programs. Autism symptoms in particular will be reduced through focused practice.
3. Teach both phonics and sight words. All children will benefit from learning the basic components of language. Children with autism are as different and individual as all people. Some may be stronger at using sight words, but the benefits of phonemic awareness should not be overlooked. Professionally developed reading programs for special education from Essential Skills will give emphasis and structured practice to both sight words and phonics. This will make it easier for students to begin to create words and sentences and will lead to reading fluency.
4. Go to the Pros. Teachers with blended classrooms often find themselves overwhelmed. In addition to planning, preparing, delivering curriculum, assessing, and reporting, you must find the right accommodations to help your identified students keep up. Special Ed and language specialists, along with speech pathologists can work with your struggling students and give you expert advice. These specialists will help in areas other than reading acquisition and may recommend reading programs for special education high school students by Essential Skills. As students mature and begin to be involved in wider curriculum subjects, these programs can help students read to learn as they are learning to read.
5. Read to learn. The basics of language and reading are specifically taught in the lower grades, but as students acquire the ability to read and write sentences fluently, language can become part of other subjects. Science, history, even math use specific vocabulary and often structure. It should not be taken for granted that all students will understand these differences. All new vocabulary and writing styles should be explicitly taught and modeled as they are being used in the subject being studied.
6. Read everything! Students with ASD often have more of a tendency to compartmentalize ideas and concepts. All students should be frequently reminded that reading is not just for reading class. A good way to do this is to create a language-rich environment with labels, word walls, and different types of reading material covering a range of subjects. As students learn to read, Essential Skills can provide a range of reading programs for special education that will engage students and encourage them to continue to learn.