Reading aloud is a great exercise for speech as well as for reading. Here is a quick guide to help you make the most of this therapy.
I can’t recommend this simple but powerful exercise enough. It can improve articulation, volume, and attention to the story.
All you really need is an interesting children’s story, a few minutes of your time, and a lot of love and patience.
Here are some general principles to remember as you begin this activity with your child.
It’s important to start small if your child isn’t used to reading out loud. If this is a new activity for her, you'll need to slowly build up her endurance.
My son started out reading a very short story about a cat and a cow. It was only four pages long with about two or three short sentences per page. For a while, he struggled to get through that little story. But slowly, he improved to the point that we could move on to a longer story.
There’s no rule that says you always have to finish the story. If she gets tired, you could try to have her read just a little further before stopping.
Or if you’re already near the end of the story, you can encourage her by telling her how many sentences she has left. This can give her the motivation she needs to carry her through to the end of the story.
In this way you are being sensitive to her needs while still building her endurance.
Try to have her complete the reading without expecting too much or too little. In other words, you want to require enough from her to get some good practice. But you don’t want to expect too much from her to the point that she becomes frustrated.
This is an important principle to remember regardless of what our children are learning.
Once this starts becoming easier for him, you can start gently correcting his articulation. If you come across a word that he is mispronouncing or that he isn’t pronouncing clearly, you can say the word and ask him to repeat it. As you do this, it’s helpful to emphasize the consonants for him.
Volume is another issue that your child may need to work on. If you can’t hear him very well, gently encourage him to read louder. He may need to practice speaking loud enough so others can hear him.
This is a great activity to do every day for as long as you feel that he needs it. Once your child has been doing this for a while, you'll likely begin to see improvement in his reading and in his speech. And even when he has mastered this skill, you can still repeat this activity once in a while to help him stay in practice.
As we have seen, reading aloud is an invaluable activity in teaching children with autism to read. But our kids sometimes need more help than that.
Autism Speaks has some great ideas for teaching our children to read, even if they are nonverbal. Click here for more information.