Presentation on Reading Strategies for Helping Students with Autism


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Presentation on Reading Strategies for Helping Students with Autism

  1. 1. Autism: Effective Strategies for Teachers & Specialists by B. J. Zagorac, M.A., M.Ed.
  2. 2. Topic Overview • Essential Question What are effective strategies for teaching students with Autism Spectrum Disorder in the elementary grades? • Guiding Question w/ Specific Focus What are research-based strategies for improving reading instruction for students with ASD?
  3. 3. Chronology of Presentation • Presentation Preview 1. Defining Characteristics of Autism 2. General Research-Based Strategies 3. Academic Strategies 4. Special Considerations in Teaching Reading to Children with Autism 5. Literacy Strategies for General Education Teachers 6. Specific Literacy Strategies: Before, During, and After Reading 7. Future Research on Autism 8. Conclusion
  4. 4. Definition/Criteria for Autism • To receive a diagnosis of autism, a child must meet each of the following criteria: 1. Deficits in social communication within multiple contexts. 2. Limited and repeated patterns of behavior. 3. Symptoms must be present in early childhood. 4. Symptoms must cause significant impairment in life functioning. 5. Symptoms cannot be explained by any intellectual disability.
  5. 5. General Research-Based Strategies  Capitalize on the student’s strengths and specific interests.  Explicitly teach and model social expectations for the student.  Provide a predictable environment and daily schedule for the student.  Design the classroom space in an organized manner so that clutter is kept to a minimum.
  6. 6. Academic Strategies • When considering any academic strategy for a child with autism, it is important to focus on his/her special interests and strengths. • Teachers can follow 4 easy steps when developing a strategy: 1. List as many strengths, talents, and special interests of the student as possible. 2. Identify the specific academic need of the child. 3. Investigate research-supported strategies from scholarly journals (e.g., Intervention in School and Clinic, Remedial and Special Education, and Teaching Exceptional Children). 4. Pair the strategy with one of the student’s strengths, interests, or talents. Creativity is important, and the special interest of the student must be a primary part of the strategy.
  7. 7. Special Considerations in Teaching Reading to Children with Autism o Children with autism are typically very focused on the explicit and literal meaning of texts. o Making inferences beyond what is stated in the text is challenging for students with autism. o Students with autism will often struggle to make predictions or answer questions from the teacher about predictions. o Identifying emotional states of individuals and characters is very difficult as students with autism have “theory of mind” deficits.
  8. 8. Literacy Strategies for General Education Teachers  Read aloud to students and remind them that reading is always about making meaning and not on reading words.  Use visual aids and supports whenever possible during reading. Simple graphic organizers are highly effective.  Incorporate reading topics of personal interests to students with ASD.  Use nonfiction texts because it is easier to comprehend for students with ASD.
  9. 9. Strategies Before Reading  Priming This strategy involves the teaching of essential skills prior to a reading activity. • Children with ASD often lack of background knowledge or have inaccurate background knowledge on many topics. • Any necessary background information is directly taught to the student so that he/she will be able to make connections while reading the text. • Priming sessions should be short, provide positive reinforcement, and the tasks should be easy for the student to complete.
  10. 10. Strategies Before Reading  Picture Walk This strategy is somewhat nontraditional when used with students with autism in that much more structure is maintained. • The only pictures selected pictures selected are those that will provide an accurate and clear understanding of the events in the story. • The specialist immediately corrects any misunderstandings for the student so that he/she knows exactly what to expect in the story.
  11. 11. Strategies During Reading  Think-Alouds w/ Reciprocal Teaching This method is a combination of a think-aloud with the goal of teaching important comprehension strategies to students with ASD. • Teacher directly models the strategies of predicting, questioning, clarifying, and summarizing. • Teacher stops at specific places in the story and shows students with exact words that trigger his/her (teacher’s) thinking. • Colored post-it notes are recommended because students with ASD can separate the different thoughts that the teacher has written down. For example, the teacher can assign a certain color to each one of the 4 strategies of reciprocal teaching.
  12. 12. Strategies During Reading  Emotional Thermometers This strategy is used to help students understand the emotions and feelings of characters. • Shades of colors are used in a spectrum to help students understand the different degrees of an emotion someone can feel. • One color is used for a single emotion but in different shades. • Green should be used for happy feelings and good ideas whereas red should be used for angry feeling and bad ideas. • The student can also be asked to rate his/her own emotions on the thermometer.
  13. 13. Strategies After Reading  Goal Structure Mapping This strategy helps children with autism see how events in a story are interrelated and dependent on the characters. • In a visual or graphic format, the teacher lists the main characters of the story and creates a simple statement about each one. • Another graphic organizer is used to list the main characters and events in the story, however lines, arrows, and shapes are included to clarify interrelations among characters and events. • Teacher should stress how characters can influence the actions of each other.
  14. 14. Strategies After Reading  Social Story Analogies This strategy helps students with autism consider the perspective of characters in stories and others in social situations. • Teacher develops a simple story based on what students are reading to help explain a character’s actions and feelings. • The story is typically told orally and must make some connection to information the students already understand. • Social stories can also be used to help explain certain language in the text that may seem contradictory to the character’s actions.
  15. 15. Future Research on Autism  Research in the area of early instruction in reading comprehension strategies is important because it may help children with ASD focus more on the content of what they are reading instead of word decoding.  Longitudinal studies investigating reading comprehension and its effects on linguistic, cognitive, and social skill development would help improve our knowledge of how the multiple components of comprehension advance over time.  Larger studies are needed so methods and techniques can be generalized to a broader range of students with autism. To date, most research has taken the form of case studies using qualitative measures.
  16. 16. Conclusion  Children with autism will need support from both the general and special education teachers in order to become successful learners who are part of the school community.  Visual aids should be utilized consistently as this is the primary modality through which children with ASD are able to learn.  The learning environment should be kept simple with limited amounts of stimuli so that the child’s focus is optimized.  The reading strategies designed for children with autism can benefit all students, but the teacher must ensure that ample modeling is provided and that responsibility is gradually released to students.
  17. 17. References Autism Speaks, Inc. (2014). DSM-5 diagnostic criteria. Autism speaks. Retrieved February 5, 2014, from diagnostic-criteria. Gately, S. E. (2008). Facilitating reading comprehension for students on the autism spectrum. Teaching Exceptional Children, 40(3), 40- 45. Hart, J.E. (2012-2013) Navigating autism’s swirling waters. Phi Delta Kappan, 94(4), 24-27. Hart, J.E. & Whalon, K. J. (2008). 20 ways to promote academic engagement and communication of children with autism spectrum disorder in inclusive settings. Intervention in School and Clinic, 44(2), 116-120. Lanou, A., Hough, L., & Powell, E. (2011). Case studies on using strengths and interests to address the needs of students with autism spectrum disorders. Intervention in School and Clinic, 47, 175-182. doi: 10.1177/1053451211423819
  18. 18. References – cont. Minahan, J., & Rappaport, N. (2012-2013). Anxiety in students: A hidden culprit in behavior issues. Phi Delta Kappan, 94(4), 34-39. Palm, M. (2012-2013). First, do no harm. Phi Delta Kappan, 94(4), 13- 15. Styslinger, M. E. (2012-2013). Making meaning: Strategies for literacy learning. Phi Delta Kappan, 94(4), 40-45. Whalon, K. J. & Hart, J. E. (2010). Children with autism spectrum disorder and literacy instruction: An exploratory study of elementary inclusive settings. Remedial and Special Education, 32, 243-255. doi: 10.1177/0741932510362174 Williamson, P., Carnahan, C. R., & Jacobs, J. A. (2012). Reading comprehension profiles of high-functioning students on the autism spectrum: A grounded theory. Exceptional Children, 78(4), 449-469.