Summer can be a time of stress for a child with autism and parents are mindful of not wanting their children to lose ground educationally over the long break.
Reading is an important element of the summer structure and you’ll want to create a pleasant experience outside his or her usual routines. A great way to prepare your child for the big change is by reading books about it.
Seattle Children’s Hospital Autism Center recommends these books to help your child get ready for the summer:
• The Night Before Summer Vacation by Natasha Wing
• How I Spent My Summer Vacation by Mark Teague
• Go Go America by Dan Yaccarino
• Last Day Blues by Julie Danneberg
• A Couple of Boys Have The Best Week Ever by Marla Frazee
• To Be Like the Sun By Susan Marie Swanson
• Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett
• The Aurora County All Stars by Deborah Wiles
• The Life and Crimes of Bernetta Wallflower by Lisa Graff
• Violet Bing and the Grand House by Jennifer Paros
• Greetings from Nowhere by Barbara O’Connor
• Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little by Peggy Gifford
Check to see if your city’s library has a summer reading club and/or story time for children with autism. Many libraries across the nation have become more inclusive and sensitive to the needs of the developmentally disabled.
Experts offer some reading tips to parents wanting to make sure their child’s skills don’t regress over the summer months. Those include:
• Set aside a specific time each day to read.
• Choose non-fiction books rather than fantasy.
• Read books that prepare them for events and/or engage their special interests.
• Choose book with a tactile component such as different textures or a pop-up format.
• Ask frequent questions about the story.
• Have them recount the story to you after you’ve finished reading it.
• In advance prepare pictures of nouns in the story that your child may not know so that you can show rather than tell him or her what they mean.
• Use flash cards for phonics.
• Emphasize simple rhymes.
• Repetition. Repetition. Repetition.
To this, I would add a personal story. One of my sons with autism is dyslexic and didn’t begin to read until he was in the fourth grade. His breakthrough came when he got an audio book of a story set in colonial times. He holed up in his room and read the paperback version as he listened to it being read over and over again every day for two weeks. After that, he could suddenly read and was beside himself with excitement and joy. So while visuals are important, sometimes it’s the audio component that switches on the light inside the autistic brain.
Here is a website that has free printable charts for reading and other daily activities that you may find useful for your child.
Happy summer reading!