Yesterday, I met a mom and a little boy whom I will be working with. He is relatively newly diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Mom had a lot of questions. We started talking about reading and she said he loved books but wanted the same one read to him each night. It happened to be a rhyming, repetetive book.
One of the advantages of being a speech therapist in private practice is that I meet with children in their homes so I get to know the family and can “teach” the parents too. I look forward to helping this mom learn what books are beneficial in building her child’s language and “how” to read to him to the best advantage.
First of all, choose books that have a simple story that your child can relate to within his experience (going sledding in the first snowfall, having a Halloween party and making popcorn, going camping, eating, sleeping, playing etc.). Make sure the drawings are simple enough not to distract from the story. I have provided a list of good books I have used here. Set aside some of the fun and wacky Dr. Seuss type of books where kids tend to memorize them and repeat phrases from the book. Instead, offer some books with interesting stories, something to laugh at and keep their interest. Try using dialogic reading which is talking ABOUT the page’s illustrations, not reading the text exactly each time. Since the goal for many kids on the autism spectrum is to generate flexible language, we want to model that for them. Tell the story in a little different way each time, using various describing words and finding a new detail to talk about.