As parents, we want our children to have the best chance at success, and reading is an invaluable skill for engaging with and prospering in our society. Finding ways to help a child with reading difficulties may seem daunting, but luckily, there are some great resources to ensure you and your family can get the proper reading help for your child.
In this guide to helping young children read, we’ll cover:
- What are common reading difficulties in children?
- Recognizing reading difficulties in children with autism
- Five ways to help a struggling reader
- When is it time to get help with reading?
- How to get help reading for children with autism
What Are Common Reading Difficulties in Children?
When trying to figure out how to help struggling readers at home, it is crucial to identify the common impediments your child might be running into.
We recommend recording how and when your child struggles to read so that you can use the data to track their progress over time.
It can also help you match symptoms with common reading difficulties such as:
- Omission of words while reading
- Mixing up words or letters while trying to read
- Slow reading speed
- Limited reading vocabulary
- Trouble sounding out syllables or words (phonics)
- Poor general reading comprehension
Some of these may contribute to why your child has difficulty reading. Children with autism may be prone to developing their reading skills later or at vastly different rates, so it is important to identify weak reading skills to measure and target for improvement.
Recognizing Reading Difficulties in Children with Autism
While children with autism are prone to the same reading difficulties commonly observed in many school-age children, their reading deficiencies may be compounded by other factors relating to autism.
These factors can include unique personal responses to sensory stimuli, learning environments, or other developmental difficulties that prevent them from learning to read at an age-expected pace.
Literacy skills are critical to hone during primary grade ages, so recognizing the deficits of readers with ASD is important to do as early as possible.
We recommend trying to identify reading or comprehension gaps by:
- Asking your child to read aloud
- Using spelling exercises while reading
- Talking about the specific definitions of words
- Changing environments to see if reading improves
The behavioral challenges that a child with autism faces may often make learning to read more difficult. Offering a friendly environment, support, and creating a unique reading plan for your child’s particular context can go a long way in developing their reading and comprehension skills.
5 Ways to Help a Struggling Reader
While there are no one-size-fits-all methods to teaching children with autism how to read, several applied techniques will give struggling young readers a better chance at improving and overcoming their reading challenges.
If you’re looking to help a child who is behind in reading, consider:
- Determine the Correct Instruction Level
For struggling readers, it might simply be a function of a slower learning pace than that of their peers. While this is something we want to correct long term, it may mean that they are receiving tasks beyond their ability level, causing them to struggle even more. Reading and speech-language skill assessments will help give you a better idea of your child’s actual speech and reading level.
- Teach Vocabulary
Often, children struggling with reading comprehension have issues with vocabulary and verbal language skills. Not recognizing words as they read can cause a child to pause or lose the context of a written passage.
Teaching definitions, context clues, and overall vocabulary will help your child learn to read more often and for longer periods.
- Practice Overall Language Comprehension
A child struggling to read will have poor underlying oral language skills.
Poor reading comprehension is often tied to these language deficits, so practicing these skills will provide a solid footing for your child to embark on their reading journey.
- Teach Using All the Senses
Our children all learn differently – some of them profoundly when you involve a multi-sensory approach. For example, the connections in our child’s brain may work better when seeing letters on a tactile surface. Other students may process vocabulary better when it is read aloud concurrently.
If your child is struggling, take the time to create more opportunities to engage their brain using multi-sensory approaches.
- Seek Professional Help
There is no shame in getting extra help from your school, state programming, ABA clinic, or other resources.
Remember, the number one goal is to ensure your child has the support they need to become proficient readers.
If your child has difficulty reading, give these methods a try – some may work, while others might be less effective.
The important thing is being patient, keeping an open mind, and providing our children with the best opportunity to improve their reading skills.
When is it Time to Get Help With Reading?
Most children learn to read by the time they are 6 or 7 years old. However, the beginning stages of reading typically start between the ages of 3 and 5.
There is nothing wrong with being patient as your child develops and attempts to read, but we also don’t want to ignore the classic signs of having difficulty reading.
If you believe your child is struggling to read, we recommend scheduling a professional assessment. Several organizations can help you with this depending on your child’s age and enrollment in schools or ABA therapy clinics.
Get Professional Help for a Child Struggling With Reading
At Ally Pediatric Therapy, our goal is to provide families with the best resources to help their children thrive. Our experts include ABA clinicians, speech-language pathologists, and other licensed professionals who can help struggling readers improve for long-term success.
If you’re looking for the best support for your child, please contact us today!