So, why should the fact that Jacob is reading be such big news? Well, Jacob is our nine year old developmentally delayed child who is also on the autism spectrum. He is high functioning and is very intelligent, but as much as we have tried, he hasn’t mastered reading. Really not even the easiest words. Although he loves to be read to and has very high listening comprehension, and although he soaks up math and does very well, he can’t decode the letters and words that are required for reading. It has just never clicked. We have tried various methods and curriculum, but it just has not worked. What we think he has mastered one day he totally forgets the next day. It’s as if he had never seen it before.
To tell you the truth, I was a little skeptical of ASD Reading (Autism Spectrum Disorder Reading) from Reading Kingdom. Jacob had tried other online reading programs and, well, as you know, nothing had worked so far. However, I was willing to try anything at that point, so I was excited to see my name on the list of reviewers chosen. Almost immediately we go started and, to my great pleasure, Jacob absolutely loved it.
The first thing he did was take the beginning placement test. There is an earlier section that I could have started him at, but it was a section for children who aren’t familiar with a keyboard or a mouse. Jacob was very familiar with a mouse, and, although he didn’t know where all of the letters were on the keyboard, he was familiar with using one. The placement test found that Jacob was weak in sequencing and wasn’t able to quickly find the letters on the computer keyboard. Both of those things are very important in using this program and sequencing in particular is important in learning how to read. If a child can’t sequence the letters he is reading correctly, then he will more than likely not be able to correctly decode and read it. Hmmm…I wonder if sequencing could have been one of Jacob’s problems all along.
So, since sequencing and keyboarding were weak skills for Jacob he was placed directly in “Seeing Sequences” and “Letter Land”. In Seeing Sequences Jacob was taken through a series of exercises where he had to look at a group of letters or a word and then remember the order to recreate that group of letters or word. If he was incorrect or if it took too long for him to remember, he was gently guided to doing it correctly. If he was correct, then he was rewarded with animated figures bobbing there heads up and down or waving at him.
I think one of the things that Jacob really likes about this program is the animation. It is very well done. Letters might be flown onto the screen by a helicopter or beamed down from a spaceship. You just never know what is going to happen, it is all fun. However, it is not overwhelming. It is the right balance of fun and learning and Jacob was taken by it right from the start.
Letter Land has the same high quality graphics and rewards, but in this section you are introduced to the letters in each row of the keyboard. Jacob would be shown letters and then asked to find them on the keyboard. I was amazed. After two or three weeks of practice Jacob knew where all of the letters were on the keyboard almost immediately with no help at all!
There’s the problem, though. These two sections took two or three weeks. Don’t get me wrong. A child is encouraged to work with ASD Reading four or five times a week and, trust me, it never was boring for Jacob and I could see how well he was progressing. It was time truly well spent. So, what was the problem? Well, let me tell you a little secret about the Schoolhouse Review Crew. When we are chosen for a review, we are given five or six weeks to review that product from the time we receive it to the time we have to write the review. Well, I thought to myself, if it takes Jacob two or three weeks just to learn sequencing and where to find the letters on the keyboard, that just leaves us two or three weeks to see if the learning how to read section of ASD Reading really works for Jacob before I have to write the review.
However, we kept on going. By this time, though, Jacob liked the program so much that he was doing two or three lessons a day so he moved a bit quicker. So, we began with Level One. There are five levels in ASD Reading and in each level you learn enough words to be able to read six books. The ASD Reading website says that each level should take 10-15 weeks to complete, but when you break it down, that’s about two weeks per book. In Level One you learn 36 new words, however, you don’t only learn the words, you learn many variants of that word as well. For example, a child might learn the word “park”, but then he will also learn the variants “parks”, “parking” and “parked”. So in reality Jacob will be learning a lot more than 36 words in Level One.
Each lesson begins with showing Jacob a new word and making sure he knows what that word means. For example, one of the new words was boy. The computer showed the word boy while a voice pronounced the word. Jacob was then shown three or four pictures and he would have to pick the picture of the boy. Farther in the lesson he may have to type the word boy or he would be shown the word “boy” with some letters missing and he would have to fill in the missing letters. Then, they may add an “s” to the word to introduce a new variant or perhaps even a whole new word and he would have to go through a similar process again.
As I mentioned before, he has begun doing two or three lessons a day, so he whizzed through the words for book one and, to my amazement, read the first book aloud to me with hardly a mistake! He had never done that before! I knew that we had found the answer to his reading problems. ASD Reading!
Jacob likes the program because of the clever and well done animation and because of the reward factor (you also earn points and, after you have accumulated so many points you are rewarded with a page in your passport). I love ASD Reading for other reasons, though. Of course I like it because it has been our answer to Jacob learning how to read, but it is the process that they use that I really like. You see, ASD Reading has a built in program that monitors how well a child is doing and if a child needs more help in a particular area. If a child is catching on quickly then the program might move him along a little faster. If a child need help in something then the built in program might review a section automatically or give him more help in a specific area. I also like the fact that I get periodic progress reports and can go to the ASD Reading program myself to see how he is doing. Everything is done online using secure passwords. I think I love it as much as Jacob!
Something that is very unique about this program is that it was developed specifically for autism spectrum children. And, that is for all autism spectrum children even if they are non-verbal. I am a believer in this program and am very impressed with it. If you have a child anywhere on the spectrum I would encourage you to check it out.
This is one of those “WOW” reviews that I have talked about recently. I only give a review a “WOW” if it is extra special and made an impact on my children. ASD Reading by Reading Kingdom fits that requirement. It is definitely a “WOW” review. To find out more about ASD Reading or about Reading Kingdom just click on any of the highlighted links above. To find out what some of the other Schoolhouse Review Crew members had to say about ASD Reading and about another program by Reading Kingdom called Reading Kingdom Online, just click on the banner below. Happy Reading!