Yes, even if speaking is an issue, your child can still learn to read!
Let me go over the basic steps in learning to read.
You have pre-reading skills and that’s awareness of print words. Most children with autism have this in great strength.
This is when your child knows what brand of food they like based on what the box looks like. They are showing pre-reading skills.
Awareness of Rhyming
They might even be doing this with their speech therapist because sometimes kids produce speech easier in a rhyming way. So if you say fat, cat, hat, and pause with s…. they will respond either with the correct word (sat) if speech is possible or they might approximate something that shows they understand rhyming.
Next comes letter recognition. They can identify the letters when asked. A child with autism who has difficulty with speech can do all this by pointing or by using an iPad.
Next to learn is the sound each letter makes. Again for a child with autism that has difficulty with speech, this can be addressed with pointing. For example, instead of showing a letter and asking them to say the sound, you could say the sound and they point to the letter. A very easy solution to a problem that stumps many.
Now it’s time to learn to blend the sounds. And if a child has trouble speaking again, you just modify the approach. It’s totally doable.
And last comes sight words. You could use flashcards or word hunts on a variety of different apps. One of my favorite apps for teaching children with autism the concepts of reading is Reading Eggs. It’s great because it has different levels. So if you kind of know where your child is in these steps, you can start at the right level or you can actually take a quiz and have the quiz figure it out.
Reading Eggs also shows progress so you can feel successful. It shows you the age level that your child is able to read at and they do not have to speak to succeed in using Reading Eggs. Of course, there are many apps, but this one right now is one of my favorites. Here’s a link to Reading Eggs
Your child with autism can learn to read. It’s possible, it opens up so much possibility for their life. And don’t be surprised if your child somehow already taught themselves how to read. That happens a lot.
Many children with autism can read, their IEP goals just don’t reflect that.