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Understanding Autism and Why it Makes Reading Difficult

Understanding Autism and Why it Makes Reading Difficult
For parents with autistic children, teaching them to read can seem like an insurmountable hurdle. Let’s take a peek at what autism looks like, why reading is particularly challenging and how LearningRx can help!
Early signs of autism
While autism can go undiagnosed for many years, if you understand common signs of autism you may be able to identify it earlier.

An autistic child will develop physically at the same rate as their peers. However, they will not keep up with their peers in the development of language, expression and behavior.
In the first few years of life, parents of a child with autism often notice that their child...
  • Doesn’t speak at 15 months and doesn’t put words together at the age of 2.
  • Doesn’t respond to their name.
  • May have an obsessive interest in a specific topic.
  • May regress in language or social milestones between 15 months and 2 years.
  • May show little or no interest in communicating.
  • May make little or no eye contact.
  • Doesn’t respond much or at all to their parent’s facial expressions.
  • May not look at an object, even if their parent tries to draw their attention to it.
  • Engages in repetitive behaviors.
  • Struggles with change in their environment.
  • Has difficulty relating to others.
Why does autism affect reading?
Children with autism struggle with phonemic awareness. In other words, it’s difficult for them to hear, identify and manipulate the building blocks of sound. When this challenge is present, it’s nearly impossible for a child to understand the meaning of words since sounds represent letters and letters are put together to create words.
A child who cannot decipher the building blocks of sound cannot decode or blend words.
Also, as mentioned above, autistic children easily become uncomfortable with changes in their environment. When a child is learning to read English, this is particularly problematic. The English language is full of irregularities and exceptions to grammatical rules which can add to their frustration.
Visual processing: A noticeable strength
When helping unlock the world of reading for autistic children, it’s helpful to identify and build on their strengths. Autistic children commonly excel in visual processing, often exceeding their peers.
Because of these strong visual skills, using pictures of objects to help children learn the building blocks of sound can be very effective.
At LearningRx, we help children on the autism spectrum learn to read by using visual, auditory and physical cues woven into fun brain-boosting exercises that strengthen their weak cognitive skills.
The results speak for themselves.
We performed a study of 1,049 children and adults on the autism spectrum who came through our doors over the course of nine years. These clients, who worked with us to boost their cognitive skills, achieved the greatest gains in long-term memory, broad attention and auditory processing skills—all skills necessary for reading success!

If you’re interested in learning more about how LearningRx can help your autistic child overcome reading challenges, take our free brain quiz and contact us here.