As a parent of a young child we know you have a lot going on; your main concerns revolve around the day-to-day functions of your home – sleep, eating, dressing, etc. So we’re not here to add one more to-do to your long list.
But we’ve discovered amazing things, that as a parent with a young child with autism, you’ll want to know. Research shows that infusing your daily life with a literacy focus, allows you to address core deficits in autism. It gives you a pathway to social engagement. We all know reading is important for future success in academics, building relationships, communication, independence, and critical thinking. And we are learning how these skills help get kids with autism back on the right developmental track.
That’s why the Center for Engaging Autism has set up a Literacy Center. We want to give you information and skills that will help you prepare your child to become a reader. The CEA Literacy Center is funded by the grant, Early Literacy for ASD, from the Minnesota Department of Education. In the months ahead we will write literacy blogs and offer workshops that support parents in doing activities to help their young children become engaged readers. We promise we won’t ask you to do word drills, but we will share with you everything we learn about inspiring young children to develop into future readers.
CEA has found evidence in the research of Patricia Kuhl that mastery in language in very young children requires learning in a social situation. This means that talking to children, reading with children from day one, and interacting with young children in back and forth language games creates openness for greater development of their skills in reading and language. We also found other research that supports the benefits of a language rich home environment and the benefits of shared storybook reading.
It is great to know that you can help your child’s development in simple ways like talking to your child and reading a storybook. If your child resists sitting for a whole book, just look at the pictures and name some objects. It’s your social interaction and engagement that helps your child.
And best of all; this is fun! It is a chance for you to have social time with your child. All you need is a book and a comfortable spot. And you’re ready to develop ciritical skills in your child, like joint attention: where the child attends to the storybook and shares that attention with you. It may not feel like you are addressing a core deficit of autism, but you are. And you’re doing it in a natural, fun and simple way.
Check out our list of good books that might be fun for you to read to your child. We’ll be adding more as we discover them. We invite you to share your best book ideas too! Join us on this road to literacy. All children can learn to read and experience the joy that reading adds to their world.