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Learning to read - why is is so difficult for ds?

(40 Posts)
tacal Mon 24-Mar-14 20:09:21


I am feeling a bit down about ds and his reading. He is 5 and has dx of hfa.

He finds reading difficult. He does not want to read books. I think the school are giving him books that are too difficult for him which isn't helping. But he doesn't want to read any books.

I am not sure what the best way of helping him is. I have bought toe by toe and am going to do that with him.

Can anyone explain to me why a dc with an autism diagnosis may find reading difficult? Is it that he could have dyslexia? Could it be to do with colour and size of writing in the book? Is it connected to his speech difficulties? I have noticed he gets sounds confused. Found out today at homework club he thinks train starts with a ch sound. and tree starts with a ch sound. I had no idea he thought that blush But I do know he always says cress instead of press, and I am failing miserably in getting him to say press.

What should I be doing for ds? And should his school be doing more? Is having him in a reading group that seems too advanced the best thing? I don't think so but school say he is in the right reading group.

Advice will be very much appreciated.

thank yousmile

armani Mon 24-Mar-14 20:15:36

does he have any input from SALT?

RalphRecklessCardew Mon 24-Mar-14 21:59:15

Um, don't train and tree start with a 'ch' sound?

Much more importantly: bump.

HumphreyCobbler Mon 24-Mar-14 22:06:53

Have you had his eyes tested by an opthamologist to check for any difficulties?

Redoubtable Mon 24-Mar-14 22:26:40

OP children with HFA often have a range of other issues that dont get a seperate diagnosis but are part of the package.
So they will often have difficulties with movement (dyspraxic), language (receptive, expressive, social rules, engagement, turn taking), sensory issues, core strength etc etc.

If he's having difficulty with phonics then a SALT is possibly your first option. Perhaps he cannot yet 'hear' the difference between 'cress' and 'press' or can't articulate the difference.
If he cant hear language that precisely, then he will have difficulty transferring it to reading.

He may also have difficulty with the fine motor control of his eyes 9as already said). An Orthoptist/Ophthlmologist assessment of vision and oculo-motor control would be indicated (especially if he's having difficulty with organising hand function i.e. clumsy, slow to write etc).

clemmie68 Mon 24-Mar-14 22:28:43

Try easyread website. My ds now 10 could not read at that age. It transformed him. He's only just been disgnosed asd now at. The time we didn't link it but with hindsight... HTH

tacal Tue 25-Mar-14 07:17:02

thank you everyone for your replies. I will have a look at the easyreadwebsite today.

Salt signed him off. They said he is supported well at home and school so he did not need input from them. I was a bit disappointed they did not want to do more for him.

He has had an eye test at boots Optician and they said everything is fine.

I can understand why he thinks train would be chrain and tree chree. This has made me realise he needs more help with speech and reading.

We had a chat last night while trying to read his school book. He is saying individual words are fine but if there is a sentence, he can not see all the words. Do you think this means a vision problem? Or he is overwhelmed by all the words?

Thanks again!!

tacal Tue 25-Mar-14 07:21:04

forgot to say, yes I think he is dyspraxic. waiting to see o/t. Hand writing is a problem. Problems with both fine and gross motor movements. even his ability to chew when eating is a problem.

armani Tue 25-Mar-14 07:59:20

certainly sounds like he needs a salt referral. is he statemented?

Ineedmorepatience Tue 25-Mar-14 08:27:12

As someone has already said lots of children with Asd have other issues as well. I would suggest an OT referral to get his visual perception checked. If he cant visually process the words of if he isnt processing them correctly he will have reading and probably writing issues.

Good luck smile

HumphreyCobbler Tue 25-Mar-14 08:41:17

I think a boots eye test would not pick up certain problems, it is important to have a more rigorous test done imo - standard eye tests did not pick up the problem my son had. We went to a behavioral optometrist in the end.

BertieBotts Tue 25-Mar-14 08:49:38

"tr" and "ch" do sound similar and lots of children confuse them.

It sounds as though he may be struggling to hear the difference between different sounds if he's also having pronunciation problems?

I would think he is overwhelmed by all of the words. DS (NT) was like this when learning to read. He could read each word individually if I blocked all of the others off but by the time he'd got to the end of the sentence he couldn't remember what all of the other words were, he'd been concentrating so hard on decoding each word that he couldn't hold all of them in his short term memory so he had no idea what the sentence said. As he's got better at blending and decoding it's now more automatic so he is more able to combine the two skills of decoding each word and remembering/joining each word to the next for meaning.

You can encourage him to practise listening out for different sounds by going on "listening walks" which is where you go out and tell each other all of the sounds you hear and try and identify what they are - a motorbike, car, van, birds, ducks, wind in the trees, children shouting, baby crying, etc. You can also explore different things in the house, one thing I read was if you go through your kitchen cupboards and shake different jars and packets. Show him which is which and then get him to close his eyes and see if he can identify which sound he is hearing.

Obviously this would be alongside the SALT etc but might be good to do at home.

Redoubtable Tue 25-Mar-14 09:29:00

OP I'm an OT and in looking at children who may be dyspraxic I now always check visual pursuits i.e. their ability to follow smoothly across the midline.

This is a function of the muscles that move the eye-ball in the is not vision and AFAIK is not routinely tested by Opticians. Othoptists are the specialists in this area as are Behavioural Optometrists.

It tends to be associated with fine motor difficulties (I am guessing that if you have difficulty with fine motor, it will affect the eyes as much as hands or elsewhere. i cant quote any research to support that but it is my experience).

I think I would be knocking on the SALTs door again in your position. It may be that he has difficulty with mastering the fine movements needed for sounds...I know SALTs will sometimes diagnose verbal dyspraxia.

You could make something like this reading tracker. If it helps, it would give you an indicator that tracking across the line of text is difficult for him.

wasuup3000 Tue 25-Mar-14 09:32:35

Has he been assessed by an Ed Psych who would hopefully pick up on the phonological issues your DS appears to be having? Dyslexia is certainly worth looking into and for his eyes you need a optomotrist not a general optician to see if your son might benefit from Irlen/coloured lenses. He won't have taken the year 1 phonics test yet will he - but maybe his teacher could try him with a few examples to see if there were any problems in that area as that would be a indicator that he might need further assessments.

tacal Tue 25-Mar-14 10:44:22

Hi, you are all so helpful. thank you!!

armani - I believe I can self refer him to salt so will look into that.

ineed- it could be visual perception. I suspect something visual is going on. He should reach top of waiting list for ot in June.

bertiebotts - thanks for the suggestion of listening walk. I will try it. He seems good with sounds and can hear them too much, often needing ear defenders for little sounds. but good idea to explore how he is with listening for individual sounds.

wasup - ed psych signed him off after one visit. I can phone her for advice so will probably do that. thanks for the suggestion. I forgot about her because she seemed not very helpful.

redoubtable- thank you for the info. I will try to get him an appointment with a othoptist or behavioural optometrist. I have often wondered about verbal dyspraxia so will read up on that. The reading ruler things look good. Many thanks.

tacal Tue 25-Mar-14 10:45:52

humphrey- did you need a referral to the optometrists?

Redoubtable Tue 25-Mar-14 11:27:51

I'm putting everything you've said together here:

He does not want to read books. He has difficulty with perceiving the detail of sounds. He is defensive to some sounds.
He has difficulty chewing. Difficulty with fine and gross motor skills.
You've wondered about verbal dyspraxia.

I imagine that you've probably left out a lot of detail- he may have difficulty with textures, clothes, getting to sleep? a bit nervous, car sick? Tires easily. not fond of sports?

Children with ASD often (usually) have co-occuring movement/sensory/feeding/attention problems that 'get lost' when their diagnosis is made; as ASD is (rightly) seen as a social communication disorder.
IME the other issues can be as much of a problem and mis-understanding them certainly does not help the child.

I think you have loads of issues there to take back to the ASD team particularly OT and Speech. The visual issues (if that's what it is) might be improved by some gross motor work with OT.

zzzzz Tue 25-Mar-14 12:26:13

I can't help much on the dx side, but the learning to read side I have lots of ideas. Both my boys now read. One uses irlens lenses and lots of hard work (nt otherwise if a little hyperactive) and one severely language disordered/ASD.

Ds2 says his lenses/overlays "make the spaces easier to see", he still finds it harder than the average child but has made ready progress and can now read a paperback with support.

Ds1 wasn't particularly motivated by stories, but found decoding the words easy. He doesn't understand more complex sentences and early readers really bore him. iPad and montessori elementary language exercises really helped engage him. He reads "Green eggs and ham"/"Snail on the Whale" stage books and is working his way through an American reading app.

BertieBotts Tue 25-Mar-14 12:42:50

If he's very sensitive to sound might it be that it's difficult for him to filter out background noise when he is listening to speech?

tacal Tue 25-Mar-14 12:48:57

hi redoubtable - what you say is so true. Most of the main issues ds has have kind of got lost because of his dx . Teachers and professionals just see every problem as ' because he has autism' and don't want to fully understand what is wrong and put effort into helping him.

you described him very well, except he loves sport. Even though he has co-ordination problems and is not as capable as everyone else at sports he still really enjoys participating. But it is not the same with anything involving fine motor movements. He hates writing, jigsaws etc.

Thankfully he will be seeing an ot in June. It is an eight month waiting list for ot. I will think about salt or approaching the autism team. thank you!

tacal Tue 25-Mar-14 12:53:13

hi zzzzz, I was just reading about irlens. I have made an appointment for ds with someone who specialises in them. I will have to travel quite far for a behavioural optometrist so trying to decided where is best.

green eggs and ham was a favourite story of ds' when he was younger. I think we might try reading that tonight. thank you for reminding me about it.

I will look into the Montessori read & write book. thank you!

tacal Tue 25-Mar-14 12:56:19

hi bertiebotts, yes he is! does not hear people if lots of noise. That could be causing problems. The school should be aware of this and I try to keep background noise to a minimum. I will keep this in mind when we are having conversations and reading. thank you smile

mumsuz Tue 25-Mar-14 13:19:03

Hi tacl - just to say that the behavioural optomotrist that saw my DD picked up lots of problems/issues that the usual optician did not spot, such as eye tracking/peripheral vision/sensory issues. Usual opticians are just looking for whether there is 20/20 vision which at this age is actually less important than near sight issues.

We are due to start vision therapy which the aim of working on some of these. I cant say yet whether it will help but the optomtrist certainly seemed to understand my dd and her needs better than the regular optician!

zzzzz Tue 25-Mar-14 14:18:52

Has he tried any overlays? If you are wondering about irlens (and it only effects a small number of troubled readers) then the best thing to do is try overlays for a term or so first.

If he finds them helpful then go and get him properly assessed. Remember it only makes it easier/clearer to read, he still has to practice/learn to read.

tacal Tue 25-Mar-14 15:47:36

hi mumsuz - what problems was your dd having that lead you to a behavioural optometrist? I hope the therapy helps. Is it very expensive?

hi again zzzzz - is there a way of knowing what colour would
help or is it just a case of trying them all? Did your ds say the overlay made a huge difference straight away or is it quite a subtle difference and need to try it for a while to know if it is helping?

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