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Teaching A Special Needs Child to Read

"UP" points to the top of the stairs. "DOWN," of course, points down. I tape words and letters to walls and balls and stuffed rabbits and birds to help my son learn to read. "P" for patient is the one I should tape to my forehead.

Teaching my older child to read went as the book said. I read every night to her. We did the Hooked on Phonics series; we read stories out loud; I read longer chapter books to her like the Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White. We read and read and read until she took off and flew. Now, she reads as if it is food for her soul. She jumps with excitement at stories and lives with the characters 'til death (or the last chapter) do they part. She plots days to go to the library, and when she has a few bucks, buys one or two to put on her shelf.

"It's my collection," she tells me. (I am happy it's books and not Smurfs or small glass animals that need a lot of dusting.)

As for my special guy, the process of reading is very slow. I do the same things with my son as I did with the older child. His attention span wears out quickly, however. I know when I push too much, we'll both get frustrated. We play the Hooked on Phonics #1 tape over and over and over again in the car (which still has a cassette player). He seems to have the alphabet down and can recognize upper and lower case letters. I'm not sure about the words. He likes the word "no" an awful lot, so that is our baseline to jump off from.

No go.

No car.

No dog.

No bird.

No, no, no.

I get stuck on how to explain articles. What is "the" to a child? I imagine for my son, there is only one of everything. For "the," and "a" (I'm leaving "an" alone for now), I rely on straight memorization and hope by some form of osmosis and repetitive recognition, he'll catch on.

The world around us is a delightful teacher. The books serve wonderfully, but at times I'm driving, or we're out and about, I point and pronounce "B" for bird; "R" for rabbit; and "T" for turkey.

I am sure one day, he'll blow me away and sit and read a line or two as if he'd been doing it for years. When that day comes, he'll get to fly to a whole new dimension.

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