Some autistic children struggle with language skills, and it can be challenging to teach them some basic tasks, such as reading and writing. As literacy is crucial to everyday life, it is important to help your child with autism develop these skills. Focus on helping you build fine motor skills through art projects and writing exercises. It is also important to get outside help from the school or another professional if necessary.
Method 1 of 4: Building Basic Skills
Step 1. Teach the child to hold a crayon correctly
This can be taught even before your child learns to read or write, such as when he is drawing with you. Start by holding the crayons to give an example. Then place the chalk in the child's hand and place her little fingers around the object correctly. Guide her hand to draw some shape or write her own name.
Show how to do this as soon as possible; most children can hold a crayon until they are four years old
Step 2. Try compression exercises to help you strengthen your muscles
Have your child squeeze objects (such as a stress ball or plasticine) to build strength in the fingers. Start with soft objects and gradually work harder as the child grows stronger.
- Plasticine and clay help with dexterity.
- The little one can also try doing some tasks, like watering plants, with a spray bottle.
Step 3. Improve your child's motor skills with art projects
Gather materials such as chalk, ink, markers, crayons, scissors, coloring books and stamps. Let your child create art with the materials without any pressure. For example, he can place beads in a row to improve finger dexterity.
This can be a good opportunity to spend quality time more relaxed with your child. Let him choose what he wants to do and do the activities together
Step 4. Help him build strength by painting and drawing on vertical surfaces
Working on this type of surface helps a child with autism develop crucial wrist muscles for writing. Use an easel to encourage your child to paint or draw vertically. A magnetic or chalk wallpaper is also a good choice for this.
Step 5. Expose the little one to the alphabet with simple techniques
This activity will teach you more about letters. Let him play alphabet-related games and learn the sounds of each letter.
- A foam puzzle with letter-shaped pieces.
- Alphabet fridge magnets or putty on the window glass.
- Singing the alphabet song.
Step 6. Read with your child to expose him to letters and words
Look for books about the alphabet and subjects that interest the child. Let her follow you as you read to begin to become more familiar with letters, words, and language in general.
- Children with autism often have difficulty staying quiet for a long time, so try to make reading sessions shorter.
- Let your child see you reading as well, and spread out books around the house that are age-appropriate so your child can pick them up to read at any time.
Method 2 of 4: Doing Writing Exercises
Step 1. Use a pencil holder to help position the child's hand
If your child has difficulty holding a pencil, try using a peg. There are several options, such as a soft grip to put around the pencil, others with finger holes or special pencils made to improve grip.
Try using different types to see which the child is most comfortable with
Step 2. Ask the little one to copy shapes and letters
Start by drawing lines on paper and asking him to copy them. After that, proceed to simple formats. Gradually ask him to copy letters. Spend five to ten minutes each day having your child copy the lines you create.
When he gets to the letters, let him use larger pieces of paper with big lines
Step 3. Use touch to help form letters
Children who are more touch-oriented may like certain textures to start writing. If that's your child's case, use these textures to help them practice writing skills. For example, help him write using finger paint or shaving cream.
Some children with autism are not comfortable with wet, sticky or other textures. If so, don't force her to do this
Step 4. Print out worksheets so he can practice the alphabet
You can find them on the internet for your child to practice letters. Find sheets with large print and spacious lines. Print them out and ask the child to practice with one a day.
Step 5. Write a word in big letters so he can see how it works
When a child is just starting to write, it's always good to watch when an adult makes an example first. Write in large letters with marker and have your child trace them with a pencil or pen. Another option is to let it connect the dots. Make the dots in the shape of a letter.
When writing his first words, choose the ones he likes, such as your child's name and the names of people or things he or she likes
Step 6. Ask the little one to write about their interests
If he's learning to write but has difficulty staying interested, get his attention on your child's favorite activities. Ask about these activities and ask him to write about them.
- For example, if he loves birds, ask him to write about his favorite birds and the different species he has seen recently.
- Special interests are the perfect way to help a child stay interested and involved in an activity. For example, if your daughter loves dogs, she might like to write a story about dogs with you.
Method 3 of 4: Making Writing Easy for the Child
Step 1. Alleviate the child's sensory difficulties
Create a peaceful environment that is not distracting or unpleasant for your child. You can put on some really soft music to play (or keep the room completely quiet), adjust the light levels in the room, and undo strong scents.
Step 2. Use resources when beneficial
Some children with autism respond better to pictures or sign language than to verbalized words. When giving your child instructions, use a visual aid or a sign to help them better understand what to do. If he looks confused, use a visual aid to explain.
For example, ask him to see a photo of a cat to better visualize the animal and write the word “cat”
Step 3. Give clear and concise instructions
Children with autism may have difficulty following complex instructions, so keep them short and brief. When presenting an activity, explain one step at a time. Let the child follow your example instead of explaining everything at once.
For example, you might say “Let's get the crayons and start an activity. First, let's draw a line right here.”
Step 4. Add writing to your daily routine
Children with autism can do better with the security and predictability of a stable routine, so include writing in your child's daily routine. He can become familiar with writing if practice becomes a consistent part of his day.
- For example, do a writing exercise every day before or after lunch so that the activity becomes predictable.
- Do not pressure the child. If she doesn't like writing at a certain point, wait a while. Present the activity as something fun rather than a boring chore.
Step 5. Have fun together
Writing doesn't have to be a rigid and demanding activity. Play around, clown around and keep things very relaxed. Let your child bring a toy or two to the table, especially if he needs to tinker with something to focus on.
If sitting is difficult, try giving him an exercise ball or a soft chair that he can move around
Step 6. Take breaks
If your little one has difficulty sitting and concentrating for long periods, take a few breaks so he can get up and move around a little. Avoid pushing things too hard or too long, as he may end up rejecting writing exercises.
Method 4 of 4: Getting Additional Help as a Parent
Step 1. Create an individualized school education plan
Some schools need to provide assistance to children with diagnosed learning problems. Make an appointment with your child's teacher, a meeting with the school psychologist or others involved in your child's education, and talk to them about the help your child needs to learn.
The school may offer services such as special education, classroom resources, and additional help with reading and writing activities
Step 2. Work with an occupational therapist
The professional can help the child build the skills needed for writing, such as motor coordination and muscle control. If your child goes to school, he or she may be eligible to consult with an occupational therapist at the institution. You can also make an appointment through your health plan.
Find the provider by calling a clinic or getting a recommendation from the pediatrician
Step 3. Look for other educational resources
There are many resources available to help you teach your child with autism to write. Join an autism group, for example. You can also attend workshops and classes at a mental health center or a community center.
Step 4. Control your expectations
It's normal and okay if a child with autism takes longer to learn certain skills, and that doesn't mean you're doing something wrong as a parent. Don't force your child or yourself. Go slow and don't cover yourself too much.
Step 5. Get in touch with other people with autism and their parents
Find an online or physical community to meet other parents. Share stories, ask for advice and support each other. You are not alone.
Adults with autism remember childhood, including what helped them the most. Don't assume that a competent or well-educated adult with autism is "not like your child." He may have a lot of knowledge and may have had a difficult childhood as well
Step 6. Get the emotional support you need
Raising children is always difficult, and it can be even more complicated when yours has special needs. You may also need to deal with other adults' lack of understanding or unwillingness to help you. It's normal to sometimes feel overwhelmed, stressed or discouraged. If you are struggling, find therapy sessions for yourself or your family.