Reading Kingdom’s Reading Kingdom provides children with a patented, new, research-based method for learning to read and write. It is designed for “neurotypical” children (who have typical learning abilities). However, with some key modifications, it provides an excellent way to teach children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The program fosters not only reading, but the vital element of comprehension that can be so elusive for children with ASD.
ASD is a neurodevelopment disorder that leads to impaired language, communication and social skills. Estimates are that approximately 70 million people are affected by autism around the globe. Shockingly, over the past decade increases of between 50% to 2000% in diagnoses of ASD have been reported world-wide. Tragically, the majority of children diagnosed with ASD never gain the ability to read with any degree of fluency or utility.
Current reading education relies almost exclusively on methods that do not work for children with ASD. However, Dr. Marion Blank, the inventor of Reading Kingdom, has designed revolutionary reading instructions methods that can be used to teach any child with ASD to read and write – even those who are non-verbal (i.e., non-speaking).
ASD Reading offers unique instruction methods not found in other programs:
- It requires no prerequisite skills – all children can use the program.
- It utilizes the four language skills: listening, reading, writing, and speaking.
- It integrates language and content, making what is taught comprehensible and memorable.
- It uses graphics, audio and animation extensively to reinforce meaning.
- It is the only program that leverages the power of the “function” words.
- It links written and spoken language so that one mirrors and reinforces the other.
- It provides customized instruction that adapts to each child’s specific skills and needs.
- It systematically assesses a child’s skills and overcomes error patterns and difficulties.
The general recommendations to use Reading Kingdom for children with ASD are as follows:
Reading Kingdom requires motor skills (the ones used for the mouse and keyboard). Children with ASD may lack the necessary motor skills. An effective way to deal with the issue is to provide hand support as shown here. Sign on to the program and do the hand support training available under the heading “Getting to Know the Mouse & Keyboard” in the reader report.
You may also want to use the onscreen keyboard (as opposed to the physical keyboard) because it is easier to manipulate.
(If you are using an external keyboard and mouse, we recommend using an external standard or over-sized mouse rather than an optical track-pad, track-ball or other mouse/pointing device.)
Within a week to 10 days, you should get a sense of whether the child can handle the mouse (with hand support).
Once the child is ready to begin the program (after doing the “Getting to Know the Mouse & Keyboard” training) we recommend that you contact us and ask to skip the Skills Survey Part 1 (which starts the program).
If the child is good at using the keyboard, we can skip the Letter Land format. If the child needs help in using the keyboard we will start him or her at the beginning with the Letter Land and Seeing Sequences formats. This is typically what we recommend.
Once you enter the Reading and Writing Levels of the program, you should contact us and request to skip the Skills Survey part 2, and let us place the child in Reading/Writing Level 1.
Before each word is taught in the program there is a mini skills survey that determines if a child already knows the word. You should skip this part by immediately clicking the star without typing the word — so that the child never skips a word.
For each word that is taught, you should write down one or two phrases or sentences used in the material from that session — sentences that you think the child can easily understand. Then after the session, you should say the whole sentence to the child, and either via paper and pencil, or on the computer, you should ask him or her to write it. If there are errors, you should stop the child immediately, provide the correction and then have him or her start again (with fresh paper or a fresh screen) and redo the whole thing until it is done correctly. This requirement for diligence and correct reproduction can be challenging, but the payoff can be tremendous.
If the child appears to not be attending or making intentional errors (this can happen sometimes because the child wants to hear the audio or see the animation that comes on for a wrong answer), you should hold his or her hand (as described here) and prevent the child from going to a wrong key. Do not guide the child to the correct key – just do not permit an incorrect response.
By following these steps, you should see very good results. (Please note that ASD is a very broad diagnosis and children within the group can have a very wide array of abilities and challenges. The instructions provided here offer general guidelines that should work with most children. Contact us if you have specific questions.)
We are working on a version of the program specifically for children with ASD and hope to have that ready soon. Until that time, however, using the Reading Kingdom with these modifications is the best option.
If you have any other questions on how to implement this, contact us.
Reading Kingdom, the creator of Reading Kingdom is the world’s foremost expert on teaching children with ASD to read. Click here to view some videos about her work teaching children with ASD at Columbia University.
Click here to read a paper relating to some of the work that Reading Kingdom has done with ASD children. As you will see in the paper, she has worked with non-verbal (i.e., non-speaking) children and has had excellent results. Because of this, it is possible to use the Reading Kingdom with non-verbal children and give them access to language.
To sign up for a free 30 day trial of our online reading program for kids, click here. Lingo and company hopes to see you soon!