Autism And Reading

Academic Difficulties
Jul 11, 2020

Reading is a skill and we are all aware reading fluency is critical. Learning to read can be a daunting task for learners with autism spectrum. However, by applying the correct coaching techniques and understanding the learner’s interest and learning capability, coaching a learner with autism spectrum to read can be much easier.

Conducive Environment

Learners with autism spectrum disorder are vulnerable to distractions. They have the tendency to get distracted by sounds and brightness and may not be capable to filter out irrelevant details such as noises and visual information. They may get distracted from the sounds or noises coming from fans or even the air conditioners.

It is recommended to provide a quiet room for the learner. Ensure outside noise are kept to a minimum. And do not sit the learner facing bright sunlight or near to a flickering fluorescent lighting. Instead, try opting for natural light or reading lamp for the reading session, as this can calm down the autistic learner  and at the same time increases focus.

Using Sensory-based Materials and Method

Many learners with autism spectrum are more visual leaners. Pictures and images work better for these learners rather than words. It is a good idea to opt for books or flash cards that incorporate colourful images that are clearly visible and eye catching. It would be helpful if the images incorporate lots of illustration especially short phrases which is ideal for autistic learners.

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Keeping It Short And Simple

Keeping it short and simple to make it easier for learners with autism to comprehend. Avoid complicated and lengthy direction or instructions, which makes it difficult for them to follow. Be sure to break down instructions in a step by step manner, use simpler and clearer language for the learner to be able to process the instruction and respond accordingly.

Repetitive Reading

Most learners with autism spectrum disorder thrive on repetition and is so used to a fixed routine. Try encouraging them to read the same book or passage over and over again. This a wonderful way to strengthen fluency, decoding skills and also comprehension skill.

Tracking Progress

Create a simple visual chart to keep track of the learner’s progress. Whenever the learner achieved a new goal or skills, highlight this achievement with a colourful good job card or colourful stars or stickers. Constant usage of words of encouragement such as “good job” and “well done” can help to further motivate the learner and build up their self-esteem.

Reading Program

If you are a coach or a parent and looking for a fun approach to coach autistic learner to read, you may consider Eblity reading program powered by Orange Neuroscience. The reading program is a computer- based program consisting of 15 weeks of cognitive training, reading therapy and assessments and is widely used for autistic learner to learn reading.  The modules in the program are very eye catching, of short duration and designed with simple tasks so as to maintain attention. The modules are also repetitive to ensure retention of skills. The progress is tracked by the program and achievements are congratulated so as to encourage the autistic learner in their learning.

To learn more about this program, you may visit

The above are some tips you may wish to try out when coaching autistic learners to read. Do note though, that not all autistic learners respond in the same way. Do talk to a health care provider or a therapist specialising in autism spectrum disorder if the above approaches are not suitable.

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