There is growing research on the type of reading instruction that seems to work best for those
with Autism and other similar disorders. There are three main components that have been found
to be essential for these Autistic learners: First, most are visual learners and need to have
their material presented to them visually. Second, they do better with simple, concise and
directions or instructions for completing a task or applying a skill. Third, many do well with
phonics based instruction presented in a visual and simple manner.
The Discover Intensive Phonics method addresses these three issues. First, our program is
Orton-Gillingham based, which means it is a multi-sensory method that teaches to all learning
styles including visual and kinesthetic that is so valuable to these learners. Second, the
method is explicit and sequential meaning that it is taught in a clear, direct manner that
starts from simple concepts and gradually moves to more complex concepts, always building
upon the previous skill to ensure reinforcement and retention. Several reading programs are
full of long rules or jump around from one phonics concept to the next. This does not work
well with these learners. Our program is successful because it is simple and has only 5 phonetic skills
and two decoding skills to apply in order to be able to read any size word.
They don’t have to articulate why the word says what it does, they can visually see what it
says thanks to the marking system that helps them prove the word. Finally, this phonics program
will help them develop phonemic awareness and teach them phonics in the way their brain learns.
We also address sight words and attach meaning so that they can remember those easier for
retrieval. We offer visual cues to help learn the sounds of the alphabet and have pictures
associated with the words on the software to aid in understanding and vocabulary development.
The following article discusses these points and shares other insightful information in
children and adults with Autism.
Temple Grandin, Ph.D.
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA
(Revised: December 2002)
Good teachers helped me to achieve success. I was able to
overcome autism because I had good teachers.
At age 2 1/2 I was placed in a structured nursery school with experienced teachers. From an early age
I was taught to have good manners and to behave at the dinner table. Children with autism need to have
a structured day, and teachers who know how to be firm but gentle.
Between the ages of 2 1/4 and 5 my day was structured, and I was not allowed to tune out. I had 45
minutes of one-to-one speech therapy five days a week, and my mother hired a nanny who spent three to
four hours a day playing games with me and my sister. She taught "turn taking" during play activities.
When we made a snowman, she had me roll the bottom ball; and then my sister had to make the next part.
At mealtimes, everybody ate together; and I was not allowed to do any "stims." The only time I was
allowed to revert back to autistic behavior was during a one-hour rest period after lunch. The combination
of the nursery school, speech therapy, play activities, and "miss manners" meals added up to 40 hours a
week, where my brain was kept connected to the world.