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ASD, so worried about reading and learning difficulties

(37 Posts)
Cailinrua Tue 23-Apr-13 22:38:34

My 6 year old DS (ASD) is in mainstream with a full statement and one to one TA etc. He is reasonably happy and settled there but struggling to make any academic progress. He seems to know all his Jolly Phonics sounds but can't seem to focus or apply them to reading. We are stuck on the same first 20 key words for almost 2 years and at times he recognises them all correctly and at others he still mixes them up. We are reading the same level 1 books over and over because he is not ready to move on. I feel so frustrated with how to help him and wonder will he ever be able to read?

We have almost completed the first 40 episodes of Headsprout which I heard about on here. He has enjoyed it and seems to do well but when I point out a word he has just been learning about in today's episode, he doesn't know it.

I am now just wondering if he has greater learning difficulties than we all think and perhaps he is just going to be totally incapable of ever learning to read. And if he can't read, how will he make any progress anywhere else at school. (I'm not even thinking of writing yet!). Can anyone advise me about this? Are some children just incapable of learning to read. has anyone had a similar experience and tell me how child progressed, good or bad!

HotheadPaisan Tue 23-Apr-13 22:42:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

zzzzz Tue 23-Apr-13 22:50:24

If you hav an iPad/iPhone this app has been brilliant for ds1. I wish we'd found it earlier.

Try the free bit, it's the first few lessons so you will bad able to see if It suits.

I would say iPad is invaluable for early maths and reading.

StarlightMcKenzie Tue 23-Apr-13 22:52:37

DS re-did the 40 episodes of headsprout and the second time I refuse to allow him to move on until he had got 95% ensuring that if he were to repeat an episode he had at least a day off

I found that ds couldn't read until around episode 65, then all of a sudden he could. You can get the individual sounds from headsprout and then do additinoal learning perhaps?

Like getting the 'v' and the 'ee' sound and saying 'make Vee'?

Cailinrua Tue 23-Apr-13 23:07:51

Thanks for the replies zzzz+hothead. A problem is motivating him to do anything, he is very uncooperative and it's a battle to engage him in anything. But thanks for the link, I will definitely download the Montessori programme and give it a try. Maybe I should generally try to use the iPad more with him.

Hothead, that's interesting about your DS and the writing progress. My DS has some physical delays too which are going to make writing difficult. He has only just mastered cutting and colouring in. I think that is why I'm stressing about his reading so much because I just want him to be able to do something at school, to see some progress. It doesn't help that he seems to be in a very good class where all children appear to be progressing so quickly, writing stories etc. He is already so left behind and will be totally working on his own next year (school have made this very clear). I think I'm just worried that he is not cognitively able enough to read and if he is not, what will happen.

Cailinrua Tue 23-Apr-13 23:14:13

Starlight, that is really good to hear about your DS eventually making progress on Headsprout. I think I just had such high hopes that it would get my DS reading and now feel disappointed that it hasn't appeared to help. However, I can see how good it is and I'm definitely going to ask to repeat the 40 episodes again. I almost feel it was worth doing the programme to get him confident using the mouse on the computer!

zzzzz Tue 23-Apr-13 23:20:55

Alpha writer
Intro to letters
Pocket phonics

Are all good. The apps that bill themselves as "montessori" tend to be more peaceful and less stimmy, which helps. We use all of the above. Ds thinks they are games (ie they are a treat) rather than work. Delete everything but what you want him playing on to the cloud and never admit you can change what's on the iPad. wink

coff33pot Tue 23-Apr-13 23:40:55

He will do it when he is ready and not before smile

Dont worry or stress about it as I made the mistake of worrying and trying "too hard" to help my DS that the whole reading business was off putting and more of a chore than fun to him. I was ready for him to read.....but he clearly wasnt.

He has a specific learning difficulty in reading and writing. But this year where the new school were going to leave it go 6 months or so before trying again DS actually asked to have a go at this "writing stuff" smile

Clicker 6 helped him at school and home reason I think it helped though is that DS cant stand phonics. Apart from being too loud in class with all the sounding out he also cannot apply it to reading. However we worked out he is a "whole" word reader. If he repeats, has visualised or has typed a word long enough he will remember it.

coff33pot Wed 24-Apr-13 00:13:26

Meant to say he is 8 in a couple months and has only just started!

The main thing is that you are looking at all great apps available so its not that no one is doing nothing about it.

Just keep it regular and fun and the penny will drop when he is ready smile

Badvoc Wed 24-Apr-13 07:41:11

Do you think he is dyslexic?

Sunnymeg Wed 24-Apr-13 12:56:52

Many ASD children don't learn to read by learning phonics. My DS learns the whole word. He has never been able to break the word down into its sounds. I would have a word with CT.

MedusaIsHavingABadHairDay Wed 24-Apr-13 18:51:03

My DS2 was as Sunnymeg said.. couldn't learn by phonics, and learned completely by whole word recognition. He couldn't read a word before he was 8 (in special school so not such an issue for him) and he learned first by recognising words that had meaning for HIM. He was obsessed with the TV guide at that age and by age 9 could read 'entertainment' but not 'the'!!!

However he gradually gained more words and at nearly 16 can actually spell quite well now. He does have LDs but his spelling is better than many typical children as once he knows that's there for good!

moondog Wed 24-Apr-13 19:32:36


Did he do the Mousing Around readiness exercises?
Did he use the programme at least three times a week?
Did you check his scores after each episode to ensure he got 90% at least? If not, he needs to redo the episode.
Did you ensure he responded verbally to every 'speak out loud' exercise. ('When you asked to speak up, say it out loud!')
Did you download the books to read with him?
Did you download the other exercises to do with him?

A good idea to redo, if, in your heart, you thoguht you could just stick him on it and voila! he would read. The programme will do the hard work but you need to keep him supervised.

Cailinrua Wed 24-Apr-13 23:53:51

Thanks for all the replies, feel a bit reassured by them. I don't think he is going to learn by whole word recognition as he has struggled and is struggling to learn the same 20 'tricky' words for the past 2 years - I think this is what has worried me the most. I had expected that he might find it easier to learn this way as it would be more straight forward for him, whereas there are so many rules in phonics. Although, I do realise that it is better for him to learn mostly through phonics. I feel that we have perhaps, underestimated the extent of his learning difficulties and he maybe needs more specialised teaching.

Moondog, We did the mousing around (thought this was brilliant!), I sat beside him through every episode (he wouldn't do it otherwise) encouraging him to speak out loud and we did it 5 days each week. He found the speak out loud bit hard as he has speech problems (oral dyspraxia tendencies) but I just encouraged him to say it as best he could. We also read the stories but not the other materials. I also admit I didn't check if he got at least 90% in some of the episodes, so I will definitely monitor that more carefully next time.

moondog Thu 25-Apr-13 07:32:44

Sounds like you did a thorough job but he may have needed some of those episodes repeating.
Do you know how to review his data?
Go to Home Progress Reports (opposite the big green arrow) then to All Episodes.

Don't error correct either (bar shaping up and encouraging Speaking out Loaud activities and general persistence.) The programme does it for you in an extremely thorough anbd sophisticated manner.
One of the (many) reasons I love Headsprout as an s/lt is there are thousands of opportunities to practice speech with it and for the child to learn that there is a clear connection between a letter (or group of letters) and a sound. Far more clear than traditional s/lt way of linking sounds to pictures (eg /t/ is a tap dripping). Why bother messing about with this when you can go straight onto reading? hmm

Learning words based on how their spelling is ultimately an easier way to learn as there are then just several dozen rules to learn. If you learn each word by memory, then you have thousands and thousands of new things to learn which is hard work.

Badvoc Thu 25-Apr-13 07:37:05

We tried head sprout too and the first part was fine, but the second was just too hard for my ds who was 5/6 at the time.
Check out "bear neccessities" by sound foundations. Also "bearing away".
They are the best teaching resource for children with literacy issues IMHO. (And I have tried em all!) smile
Good luck.

Cailinrua Thu 25-Apr-13 18:42:21

Thanks moondog and badvoc. I'll keep at the phonics work and try to do the Headsprout more thoroughly again. I agree that it is a great programme and love the clever way it brings him back and reinforces the things he gets wrong. I will check out the 'Bear Necessities' too after we finish because I don't want to risk confusing him with too many different games, approaches etc. We've got lots to get on with in the next few months! I would just love to get him reading, even at a very basic level before he moves into a new school year next year.

moondog Thu 25-Apr-13 18:46:20

When we use Headsprout, there are some extra materials we bring it because many of the children we use it with need further task breakdown. This has proved very successful with children with multiple physical and learning needs who many other people had written off as readers.

It's not complex but it is not something I can explain succinctly within the confines of Mumsnet. However, if people are interested, I could always try and match you up with people who know how to do this and could help or do some training for Mumsnetters as I have in the past. (I don't work for Headsprout-more's the pity!)

StarlightMcKenzie Thu 25-Apr-13 19:08:34

C It has taken ds 2 years to get through the headsprout programme (to be fair some of that was ME getting through it i.e. committment, additional work, compliance and general discipline of myself).

He started at 4 and 3 quarters and at 6 and 3 quarters he's on his penultimate episode and I've probably been dragging out/repeating the last 15 as then I'll have to take it from there iyswim.

But the thing is however long it has taken I am asbolutely sure that ds is secure in his knowledge and the gaps were all filled.

He is currently reading to dd her library book (making quite a bit of it up tbh but he's creative with avoidance of work).

crazeelaydee Thu 25-Apr-13 19:27:11

Write the words to learn on A4 sized pieces of card or paper. Use coloured pens to break up the sounds eg mat m(blue) a(orange) t(blue) hold it in front of him ask him to look at the letters, say the letters/word out loud twice, ask him to look at the letters again then close his eyes, ask if he can still see the letters in his mind, if yes ask him to say the letters again. Long winded I know but See how he goes on.

moondog Thu 25-Apr-13 19:39:12

No Crazy, sorry but it's not about a colour coded memory game.
It's about learning a consistent relationship between a squiggle on a page (ie a letter) and a sound.

Using colour coding is great in many instances but has no relevance here.

crazeelaydee Thu 25-Apr-13 20:02:17

ooo ok sorry moondog blush

moondog Thu 25-Apr-13 22:24:24

I don't mean to be rude. It's just that sometimes when trying to help, people actually make it more complicated than if needs to be. Hope I haven't caused offence. smile

zzzzz Fri 26-Apr-13 09:04:49

I'm not sure about colour coding as a memory game, but vowels and consonants different colours is standard in Montessori style moveable alphabet. I think it is a very good additional support to cvc stage word building.

I do think word building as a focus is better than word decoding.

This book

Is brilliant, and all the resources are cheap and easy to make at home.

zzzzz Fri 26-Apr-13 09:06:03


Sorry this phone is to small!!!

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