How can Happy Cheetah help my 7-year-old autistic son?
From Dr. Karen’s files:
In what ways could Happy Cheetah help my 7-year-old autistic son? We have used (with some success) the K level of an Orton-Gillingham reading program.
He is autistic and has excellent decoding/encoding skills. He can read one word at a time but has difficulty with short phrases and sentences. Since he enjoys being read to, he is processing and comprehending information that he hears. His vocabulary is at a preschool level so retelling stories is not on his radar yet.
- Autistic kids tend to be very, very bright. That’s what makes their reading struggles SOOO frustrating!
2) Autistic children have globally low muscle tone. That always includes eye muscles. He needs an excellent pediatric eye exam from an OPTOMETRIST (NOT an ophthalmologist). [He can read (decode) single words, but not phrases.]
3) Low muscle tone also effects stamina in copy work. He needs to practice (meaningful) writing EVERY SINGLE day so he can build up those hand muscles. Start with two-or-three minute periods initially and build up to ten full minutes.
4) The copy work MUST be taken (connected to) the new story so that his brain has an alternate and meaningful way to process the new information.
5) This is NOT auditory processing (i.e. dyslexia) because he’s decoding well and processing information comfortably.
6) All children, but this one in particular, MUST be read to at least an hour a day and should have a listening device so that he’s hearing great stories all day long. That’s the best and most effective way to build vocabulary.
7) Any kind of screen or laptop usage is extremely harmful and will exacerbate any neurological growth moving forward.
Happy Cheetah is the ONLY reading curriculum on the market that will work for this child. It is multimodality. The lessons are short (ten to twelve minutes) and tightly woven together so that everything sounds right and makes sense. The letter boxes (phonics) are big and easy to navigate. We work on one thing at a time. The lessons start with a fun/interesting story that the child can actually relate to. It is read to the child first, so they don’t have to struggle trying to sound out high frequency words that are not phonetic. All the daily exercises are directly connected to the story. Copy work is taken directly from the story and done daily. Because all learning starts kinesthetically, research is telling us that if the copy work is taken directly from the new passage, we can double reading levels in half the time!! Students read each story a number of times during the week so there is adequate review, and they can get fluent quickly.
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