Nexus 090

Supporting Reading At Home

Introducing Reading to pupils attending Nexus School


What does it look like? What are the steps?

(For students with Autistic Spectrum Disorders)

Before we teach reading, children do need to show they are “reading ready” by being able to match shapes, pictures, colours and so on.

  • Children do not need a thorough understanding of the alphabet to learn to read.
  • To maximise success, we teach reading by using a whole word reading approach.
  • To make the reading process as exciting and meaningful as we possibly can.

We “hook” children into the reading process by introducing and using a vocabulary that is important to a child. For example using the names of loved ones, pets, favourite foods, toys, places, TV shows and characters.


The Acquisition Process – a three step approach.

  1. Matching: the child matches a word to the printed word.
  2. Selecting: the child selects a word on request by picking it up and giving it to the teacher. The matching and selecting process should be repeated 3 times.
  3. Naming: the child says or signs the word in response to seeing the written word after being asked “What does this say?” This part can be modified by allowing the child to choose and name the words in whatever order she chooses, giving her autonomy over the process and alleviating some degree of retrieval anxiety.

Children need time to practice their developing reading skills. For example, playing lotto, posting box and fishing games will allow for fluency and generalisation of their words.


Sentence Construction

Learning to put words together coherently to make sentences is the most important factor in helping your child to learn to think and use language effectively.

We know that children with autism do not automatically learn how to put words together to form their own sentences.

Therefore, the next step is to introduce sentence builders such as I, like, the, here is, my, so that sentence construction can begin. Children will need to work toward being able to create sentences. First by working from a visual example and then by combining vocabulary words independently. Children’s daily reading routine must include time for using vocabulary words to create sentences.

As a rule of thumb, when students acquire a sight vocabulary of around 40 words they can build sound and symbols associations by using familiar words, giving the letters a meaningful context. For example, H is for hula hoop.



Another key component of developing reading skills is introducing children to books as soon as possible so they develop a sense of accomplishment and pride in their ability to read.

Initially, we create books for each child, using his or her personal vocabulary. The books are illustrated with photographs supplied by your child’s family.

If you do practice reading with your child at home, please do expect a variable performance. Factors such as tiredness, hunger or even the weather can all contribute to your child’s ability recall or retrieve certain words on a given day.

I hope the above information proves useful to you, if you have any questions, or would like further support, then please contact me.



Oelwein, P. (1995).
Broun, Leslie Todd, 2004

Written by Paula Wraight
English Dimension Lead

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