Friday, August 20, 2010

Teaching an Apraxic Kid to Read

I've spent years searching and digging for information on teaching a deaf child to read, most of it is written for deaf kids that do not have hearing aids, all of it seems to say that some deaf kids learn to read, some don't, and no one really knows why. Distinctly unhelpful. Ok, to be fair the one thing that I did read that was actually helpful was that the only thing in common among deaf children that can read is parents who are determined that they will - we are some determined parents, let me tell you.

Several months back I decided that maybe I should google 'teach apraxic kids to read' being as John's main issue is that he doesn't talk and all off-the-shelf reading programs are predicated on the fact that the child can repeat the sounds made by the teacher. I cannot believe that it took me this long to actually search for this, but it did, now though I have actual helpful information, some of which we have put into action and it's actually starting to work :)

So here's the list of things that an apraxic kid needs to have worked on so that they can learn to read:
1. phoneme - grapheme matched cards (cards with pictures that represent sounds)
2. color coded systems as visual reminders of language structures and of sound groups
3. sound categorization activities using multi-sensory approaches
4. rhyming work
5. explicit teaching of reading and spelling rules

Lol, I seriously had to google some of the words in that list just to figure out what they are talking about. But some of it we have already implemented and it's really working for John, it's slow, but it's working!

So let's start at the beginning:
1. Phoneme-grapheme matched cards: K-3 Teacher Resources is great for these and I've printed, cut out and laminated a ton, better yet I am using them with John in conjunction with Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading and he is starting to make connections. The other day he was playing around scribbling and I asked him to write an 'E' for me, he thought for a second and signed 'elephant' for me, which we have been using for the short e sound. Each day I am seeing him make more connections and now he is even trying to make the sounds with his mouth and accomplishing a few here and there.
2. Color coded systems: At the moment all the consonants are on green and all the vowels are on red, as we move I will continue to color code everything.
3. Sound categorization activities: I'm still working this one out, but have found Phonemic Awareness in Young Children which is helping me to figure this one out.
4. Rhyming Work: Ugh, okay the book from #3 has some help on this but we struggle right here.
5. Explicit spelling and reading rules: Thankfully here there are two programs that have been written for children John's age. For spelling there is All About Spelling which we will start as soon as John is through learning the sounds for all his letters. This program is written for autistic children and other children who will benefit by learning the explicit spelling rules as a means to learn to spell. John is NOT autistic, but according to the apraxia people he certainly needs the rules. For grammar we have First Language Lessons which came highly recommended by a trusted friend, and although the book says it will take one year to get through we will see but it looks like it is just the right book for teaching John the explicit grammar rules at a pace that his grammar-phobic mother can handle.

After yesterday's post about John's current condition, and while we are till waiting for news of how it's going to go and what we are going to be doing, you may be scratching your head and wondering just why in the world I am focused on school, in short the answer is John loves to learn and is excited about learning to read, the other answer is John is turning 7 this winter, he wasn't supposed to have turned 1, if I plan on him dying and skip school and he lives to be an adult what do I tell him then, I of little faith was so paralyzed by fear that I neglected to give you an education, if his years or mine, as we never know when our time here is up, is cut short of him reaching adulthood we still have had a great time learning together - I might be John's teacher, but never underestimate what you can learn from a 6+ year old silly boy with a contagious love for life!


Ewe said...

I am impressed with your work that I can see in this post. I have a college degree in elementary education and I had to think to "interpret" what you wrote here. When I taught in the classroom we were focused on Writing Road to Reading. The idea behind WRTR is that you say, hear, write, read, and spell the sound/word all at one time. I don't know how to teach that without the say/hear part. But I do think a clue is to write it like you did with the "e". I will try to think if I have any more ideas for you. I think you are doing a great job and have a great reason to be motivated to teach reading too.

Gina said...

Thanks! It's certainly been taxing my brain, but just to see John make connections makes all the mental gymnastics so worth it. I'd love to hear any input that you have, thanks again.