Promoting Literacy for Children with Autism
September is National Literacy Month, and to celebrate InfiniTeach is going to be showcasing our Top 10 Favorite Adapted Books we have created for individuals with autism spectrum disorders! Every Tuesday and Thursday we will post pictures and a description of creative ways to adapt books. We will also give you links to books that are $6 or less that you can purchase and adapt using the same strategies. We have some video segments planned as well as a guest blog, so check in often and please share your ideas for adapting books as well!
Why is adapting books important for students with autism?
Many individuals with autism need support and adaptations to fully access their communities
and curriculum. Books are no different. Adapted books are important for the following three reasons.
1. Interaction Books: Offer opportunities to learn, imagine, and bring people together. In order to take advantage of these opportunities, the reader must be able to interact with books at a more abstract level than just looking at pictures or reading the words. Individuals with autism may miss some of these opportunities because they tend to think more concretely. By adapting books, we provide increased interaction with books, which give individuals with autism opportunities to explore books further than just the words or pictures on a page.
2. Knowledge vs. Performance: Without question, individuals with autism have a wealth of knowledge inside their heads. And while they have so much creativity and information, it can be extremely difficult for them to express it through typical assessments or curriculum. We often may think there are large gaps in comprehension. But often the real problem is not with how much information the student has retained, but how we have structured activities so they can demonstrate how much they know. Adapted books target the strengths of autism: visual, interactive learning so individuals with autism have to potential to fully express their abilities.
3. Social Skills: From book clubs, to group story time, to conversations with friends and families, books offer amazing opportunities for social engagement. Because of the some of the social challenges that come along with an autism spectrum disorder, individuals on the spectrum may experience difficulty engaging in and maintaining social relationships around books. By adapting books we can create more structure and help provide individuals with autism more opportunities for meaningful social engagement.
Adapted Book Idea #1: Colors
Adapting books to teach and reinforce colors are a great way to begin teaching concepts. Being able to identify a group of objects by their color helps students with autism begin to look for common characteristics among a group of objects, and generalize the concept of colors. The color book we adapted is Thomas The Tank Engine Colors. There are hundreds and hundreds of these types of books available, so chances are you will be able to find something that aligns with your students interests.
To create the book, we first laminated and attached a blank piece of white paper to the front and back covers of the book.
We then added strips of velcro the white paper and attached a strip of velcro onto each page in the book.
We adapted the book at several different levels. We printed out the matching cards, laminated them, and then attached velcro to the back of each one. We can then attach appropriate level of adaptation for the student to the white pages at the top of the book. As the student flips through the book, they will identify the corresponding color that goes with each page and velcro it into the book.
By having several different levels, we can use the book with students of different abilities in a classroom, or use the different levels to teach new skills to the same child.
Level 1: Color match with no words
Level 2: Color match with words
Level 3: Word to color with words written in their color
Level 4: Word to color match
Finally, we attached a few strips of velcro to the back of the book to store all the extra pieces that are not being used. If your students might play with these extra pieces they could also be stored separate from the book inside a file folder.