Teaching reading at Queensmill School How we ensure that our pre reading / reading curriculum is motivating and accessible to children with ASDs, and helps them to make continuous progress.
Teaching reading at Queensmill School At Queensmill School we understand the dyad of behaviours as outlined in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual version V (May 2013), (see appendix 1), and we additionally understand how these deficits pertain individually to every one of our students. We also know that along with deficits in understanding and interpreting communication, our students are likely also to suffer a range of processing difficulties. We therefore aim, with the help of our low arousal environment and the use of Sensory Integration Approaches (SIA) used continuously throughout the school day, to keep each student at a calm-alert state in which they are capable of learning. Sensory profiles, written by our in-house Occupational Therapists, are available for each student, giving a range of strategies to be employed by class staff and therapists to ensure that the students are at this optimal level for learning. All staff are trained to recognise signs of hyper or hypo-sensitivity to certain stimuli and have the skills to deliver SIA throughout the school. We know from research that children with autism have difficulty separating speech sounds from non-speech sounds which can be compounded if the environment is noisy. We also know that children with autism appear to focus on individual words rather than the meaning of a collection of words in a whole sentence. Our SIA approaches are used in tandem with all learning, so that students feel calm enough to engage with the tasks presented to them.
Teaching reading at Queensmill School Class teams working with Speech and Language Therapists (SaLTs) • At Queensmill School we work very hard at ensuring all of our pupils have a functional communication method. Spoken language is always our aim and is always modelled by staff, but we recognise that amongst our student population this often needs to be augmented by another communication method such as PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) or communication devices such as iPads. These modes of communication help our pupils to organise and present their language in a more understandable way and allow them to develop wider ranges of speech and sentence structure. We recognise that helping our children to communicate is the gateway to learning in all areas. • Our Speech and Language Therapists (SALTs) work with all class teams to ensure that all of our children make progress in their communication. Together, they write targets to improve children’s communication and these targets are delivered throughout the day by the class teams. The SALT teams also work with children directly to check communication levels and help the class team to work on functional communication skills.
Teaching reading at Queensmill School Class teams working with SaLTs (cont’d) • This then leads on to teaching functional reading skills. An important part of the SALTs’ role is to get pupils to sit and attend to sessions and improve their attention and concentration skills. The SALT team present their activities through highly reinforcing tasks to motivate the pupils and help them to focus and attend. • The combined class and SALT teams help support pupils with early reading skills. Early reading skills include recognising and decoding text and the SALT team, along with the class team, use lots of visual symbols to help the pupils recognise written words in a familiar environment. They also support reading of sentences by working with the pupils on PECS sentence strips which help children to recognise and respond to written word and symbol. • As pupils progress with decoding symbols staff begin to reduce visual symbols and introduce more written words. They concentrate on children’s abilities to recognise and decode text and then move on to achievable reading tasks such as following instructions for a motivating task. Instructions suit the learning style of pupils with autism very well as they are sequential and predictable and do not change and lead to a pleasant end-result.
For pupils with learning difficulties, reading may be interpreted as any activity that leads to the derivation of meanings from visual or tactile representations, for example, objects, pictures, symbols or written words.They may be accessed visually, aurally or through touch, for example, looking at objects, pictures, symbols or words, feeling objects of reference, looking and listening to CD-ROMs or computer programs, listening to an adult reading aloud or an audio recording.Reading strategiesPupils may be taught a range of strategies to enjoy, to access and to understand different types of symbolic representations, for example, objects of reference, pictures, symbols and text or combinations of these.
At Queensmill we use a multi-sensory approach to teaching reading, tailored to the individual student’s interests and strengths. We identify how the student learns and individualize and personalize the curriculum and our teaching for each student. We do all of this within a low-arousal environment.
We use the QCA framework for recognising attainment at P levels 1 – 3.
At P level 4:“Pupils listen & respond to familiar rhymes and stories. They show understanding of how books work, e.g. turning pages & holding book right way up.” Concept of print Interactive noisy books Songs & stories on Interactive whiteboard
At P level 5:“Pupils select a few words, symbols or pictures with which they are particularly familiar and derive some meaning from text, symbols or pictures presented in a way familiar to them.They match objects to pictures & symbols e.g. choosing between 2 symbols to select a drink.” Familiar activities and routines PECS Phase 111(a)& (b) Chooses between 2 preferences What’s in the box?
At P level 5:Whole word recognition is taught, supported with symbols where appropriate. Pre–reading skills include sharing a Big Book with a group or whole class. The Big Books are mainly topic linked. The books are supported with story sacks giving students opportunities to interact with the story and also a means of demonstrating understanding of the story. Matching objects to pictures Sharing big books Storysacks
At P level 6:“Pupils select and recognise or read a small number of words or symbols linked to a familiar vocabulary e.g. name, people, objects or actions. They match letters and words.” • personalised books are related to special interests:
At P Level 7: “Pupils show an interesting in the activity of reading. They predict elements of a narrative, for example when the adult stops reading the pupil fillw in the missing word. They understand the conventions of reading, for example by following text from left to right, top to bottom and page following page.” We make picture books about each child that they can then read with an adult. “I can jump” “I am cooking” - supported with photographs of them in action to make it more motivating and meaningful.
At P level 7: “They know their name is made up of letters.”Early phonics is mainly based on recognizing letters and linking them to the letters in their names or words that have meaning for the students. Transport alphabet book
We use multi-sensory activities to support the teaching of phonics/letter recognition including: • alphabet boxes • show and tell of objects beginning with the letter • display table with objects/ pictures beginning with target letter • large target letter with pictures beginning with that letter on it • sponge letter printing • wax resist paintings of things beginning with target letter • clay / playdoh letters • alphabet frieze - pictures • letter rubbing – sand paper target letters • make puppets to link with target letter • object treasure hunt in sand/classroom etc • writing letter in shaving foam/sand etc These activities and many more are referred to in the Scheme of Work (NB: Schemes of Work show what needs to be taught in each subject area at each learning level.)
P8 – National Curriculum (NC) Level 1: Beginning reading. Beginning to understand that text = words, phrases, sentences, stories, and that all have meaning. “They can listen and respond to questions and can understand that words, symbols and pictures convey meaning.” • Meaningful print in their environment to include students’ daily schedules • Daily guided reading or 1:1 literacy sessions. • At this stage we may need to make it explicit to the students that pictures, text and context all contribute to the reading process as often they see everything in isolation. Pupils are encouraged to look at the pictures to answer simple closed questions. • Activities to demonstrate comprehension include sequencing activities (pictures/text from the story or activity completed) or matching words/symbols to pictures.
Daily schedules showing progression of reading difficulty from photos to symbols to words with symbols. After having mastered these, students will move on to a schedule that looks like a tick-sheet with only words on it.
Reading for meaning throughout the school whilst learning daily life-skills
P level 8:“Pupils understand that words, symbols and pictures convey meaning.” Reading for meaning – instruction pictures and words
Following visual instructions to complete a learning task English – STRAND 8 –( Engaging with and responding to texts) Distinguish fiction and non-fiction texts and the different purposes for reading them. Follow a set of 3 picture/symbol instructions/signs. (P7 )
National Curriculum Level 2:Fluent reading but limited comprehension. • A functional reading-for-meaning approach which is usually topic linked to give it a focus. • A resource library of books which are colour-coded (banded) according to levels of difficulty of either text or complexity of content, cross-referenced to the Oxford Reading Tree levels. These books are to be shared with an adult if the student cannot yet read independently. • Practice of high frequency words - those used by the student e.g. schedule words, food words, colours, instructions, environmental print. • Regular checking and encouragement of comprehension through careful questioning – closed questions initially, perhaps with choices and scaffolding to support answers. • Most students will still at this stage need word mats/pictures/symbols to support the new vocabulary they are learning. • Reading Schemes include • Oxford Reading Tree • Storyworlds • Topic based easy reading non-fiction books
National Curriculum Level 2+Reading with good comprehension Continuous focus on reading for meaning and including: • Books about special interests • Recipes – as many students are motivated by food • Instructions for lego models, computer games etc • Topic based easy reading non-fiction books • Visits to the library
Examples of motivating activities and the instructions that need to be de-coded.
Teaching of more advanced comprehension skills • We teach new concepts gradually using familiar routines and formats so that the focus is on the new concept. • Inference is very challenging for ASD students. ‘What do you think might happen next in the story?’ is the type of question that will often elicit the answer – ‘Turn the page to find out’. • With questioning we scaffold the answers and gradually reduce the scaffolding when the student begins to understand what is required from them. • We use continuous assessment in order to know what skills have been learned, consolidated and generalised, and those that still need revision and repetition.
Appendix 1: DSM V criteria for autism (from Spring 2013) The child or young person must meet criteria in all sections. • Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across contexts, not accounted for by general development delays, and manifested by all three of the following: • social-emotional reciprocity; ranging from abnormal social approach and failure of normal back-and-forth conversation through reduced sharing of interests, emotions and affect and response to total lack of initiation of social interaction. • Non-verbal communicative behaviours used for social interaction; ranging from poorly integrated verbal and non-verbal communication through to abnormalities in eye-contact and body-language, or deficits in understanding and use of non-verbal communication, to total lack of facial expression or gestures. • Developing and maintaining relationships appropriate to developmental level (beyond those with care-givers); ranging from difficulties adjusting behaviour to suit different social contexts through to difficulties in sharing imaginative play and in making friends to an apparent absence of interest in people.
Appendix 1 (cont’d): DSM V criteria for autism • Restricted, repetitive patters of behaviours, interests or activities as manifested by at least two of the following: • Stereotyped or repetitive speech, motor movements or use of objects (such as simple motor stereotypies, echolalia, repetitive use of objects or idiosyncratic phrases). • Excessive adherence to routines, ritualized patterns of verbal or non-verbal behaviour or excessive resistance to change (such as motoric rituals, insistence on same route or food, repetitive questioning or extreme distress at small changes) NB rigidity of thinking may also be included here. • Highly restricted, fixated interests that are abnormal in intensity or focus (such as strong attachment to or preoccupation with unusual objects, excessively circumscribed or perseverative interests). • Hyper or hypo reactivity to sensory input or unusual interest in sensory aspects of the environment (such as apparent indifference to pain/heat/cold, adverse response to specific sounds or textures, excessive smelling or touching of objects, fascination with lights or spinning objects). • NB the symptoms in this section can be in the past. + Symptoms must be present in early childhood, but may not become fully manifest until social demands exceed limited capacities. + Symptoms together limit and impair everyday functioning.