Tuesday, April 8, 2014

5 Tips for Reading to Children with Special Needs

Have you ever had that experience where you think you're telling this really riveting story and then you look around and...... nobody is paying attention. Party of one! Unfortunately, this happens to me more than I'd like to admit. Parent's out there can relate, sometimes keeping children focused on story time can be intimidating, and children with special needs face challenges of their own when being read to. The good news is that reading can be fun and rewarding when the child is engaged in the experience.

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Carrie Rogers-Whitehead, the senior librarian at Salt Lake County Kearns Library, runs a sensory story time for young children with special needs. These are some of her suggestions for parents reading at home with their kids:

Keep it Visual

Children with special needs like autism can be very visual learners. If you get too verbal it can become frustrating for them, try mixing it up! Use visual aid whenever possible, like a flannel board, pictures, or objects to help them connect to the story!

Keep it Moving 

To help kiddo's with short attention spans, move distractions out of the room (That means cell phones too!) and keep them engaged in the reading process! Make reading interesting and fast-pasted! Check out this mom's strategies for making story time exciting by enacting a storybook.

Keep is Short and Simple 

Choose books with fewer words, or try paraphrasing longer pages. Avoid reading verbatim and give flavor to the story by adding your own inflection or pointing out different illustrations! Allow yourself to be spontaneous and sing a song! You'll be surprised how much fun it is for both of you! Click here to see some of Whitehead's favorite books to read with children with special needs.

Keep Cool

Kids are pretty in tune with how mom and dad are feeling, so stay calm in tough situations. Don't get caught up in finishing a set number of pages or adhering perfectly to a set schedule, if your child needs to rest or take a break, allow them to step away and get a drink or go for a walk. You can come back to the book later.

Keep it Fun

Above all, keep it fun! Reading should be a fun and engaging experience for parent and child. Add a simple craft to spice it up, something that uses senses like touch, smell, or sight. This mom's idea for color storytime comes with a fun simple craft you can do at home!

To check out a list of suggested readings for children with special needs and local library sensory story times, view the original article here!

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