You’ve heard the research. You know that reading books consistently with your child is known to improve their vocabulary, expressive language skills, comprehension skills, and social-emotional skills. But you’re having a hard time getting your child with Autism to sit still for books. Or, if he or she does, it’s by themselves and the minute you try to hold the book or read to them, they’re out. Sound familiar?
If you’re a parent of a child with Autism, you may be unsure of how to share books with your child to help make sure he or she reaps the benefits of being exposed to literacy from a young age. Not to mention, having that bonding time of sharing a story together. As World Autism Month approaches this April, here are some tips for helping your child with Autism to share books!
#1: Start early.
Start exposing your child to books from a young age. In fact, it’s never too early!
#2: Establish a reading routine.
Children often thrive off of having routines. For children with Autism, consistency can be especially important. They may have difficulty with transitions or changes.
Use a visual schedule (a list of pictures with or without words that show the steps within a part of a child’s day, such as bedtime) so that your child knows what to expect. Make sure storytime is a part of that daily routine!
#3: Fill your child’s library with sensory-friendly books.
Books that are interactive (flaps, buttons to press that talk or make music) and that children can touch and feel can provide children with Autism with sensory input that their body may be seeking.
#4: Adjust your demands.
If your child is active, distractible, and has difficulty sitting still for books, adjust the demands you’re placing. Instead of expecting your child to sit still for 20 minutes as you read a story, start with just a few minutes and work your way up to a longer amount of time.
#5: Choose books that capture your child’s interests.
Observe your child as he or she plays. What types of toys, textures, or actions does your child seem to gravitate towards? Try reading books that incorporate these.
#6: “Read” side by side.
Many children with Autism show difficulty with joint attention (sharing an activity with another person where they shift attention between the other person and an object). For book reading, this means they can have trouble looking back and forth between you and the book you are sharing.
If your child only seems to want to read (or flip through) books by themselves, start by getting another book and looking at it next to your child. Slowly start to interact more with your child by showing them pictures in your book or pointing to ones in theirs.
A Join the Story Box subscription is a great way to continue building your child’s library with new, hand-picked books delivered to you each month. The parent guide inside provides vocabulary and specific activities for using your books to boost your child’s speech, language, and social skills, and is curated by a nationally-certified Speech-Language Pathologist.
Amy Yacoub, MS, CCC-SLP | Speech Pathologist
Proud Member of The Story Box Family