A Helpful Autism Phonics Reading Software Program
Ultimate Phonics software may help improve the speech and reading abilities of your autistic child.
Speech problems are common among autistic children. Some researchers estimate that about a third to a half of individuals with autism don't develop enough natural speech to meet their daily communication needs.
Ultimate Phonics helps by systematically and repetitively breaking thousands of words down into their component sounds ("phonemes"). It builds the spoken language up sound by sound.
A mother's experience
We always love hearing success stories from our customers. One of the most remarkable stories is from Caroline Winship in Manitoba, Canada, who credits Ultimate Phonics with helping her autistic son Avery to make major speech improvements. At the same time, Ultimate Phonics also helped her non-autistic son Colin become an excellent reader.
We first heard from Caroline back in June 2009:
Our 6 year old Colin has been using the Ultimate Phonics program for about a year and is now reading at about a grade 2 level according to local educators. We love how the program easily progresses with no prep necessary for the busy parent and he loves to print off his word lists to read to his dad at the end of the day.
One morning, while Colin was using the Ultimate Phonics program, our autistic son Avery, who hadn't spoken anything clearly by 4 years of age, sat down beside his brother at the computer and suddenly started to repeat the words right along with his brother!
I (his mother) was brought to tears as he spoke the words so clearly right along with the voice that I immediately called up my parents and my husband exclaiming "HE CAN TALK!".
This was a huge pivotal moment in my son's life because up until this point we weren't sure if he understood how to communicate, and we were exploring through his speech therapy ways of teaching him sign language on the chance that he might never speak.
Once we realized through your amazing program that he had the abilities and the desire to speak, it has just been a matter of working with him on a daily basis to encourage him to "use his words" on a regular basis.
Thank you SO MUCH for not only empowering my children to read (our third son, at 2 1/2 years of age, is now joining in on the fun by sitting and repeating the words with his brothers) but also empowering our son to speak! :D Needless to say, we will continue to use this program -- which the kids call "Special Reading School" -- as a integral part of our home school program and we've been recommending it to everybody we know!
Here's an update from 8 weeks later:
It was very nice to hear from you and yes our family is doing well. Our son, who is autistic, is now using words to request things that he wants which is very exciting. And another huge breakthrough was on July 31st (my birthday) when he said "I love you" for the very first time!
Using Ultimate Phonics for speech therapy
In Caroline's case, her 4 year old son didn't use Ultimate Phonics directly. Instead he listened to his 6 year old brother use the program over the course of a year, and heard the computer sound out thousands of words and sentences while his brother repeated them. The prolonged exposure to hearing thousands of words sounded out and repeated is what led to the breakthrough.
If your autistic child can use the computer and work directly with Ultimate Phonics, that is ideal. If your child can't work directly on the computer then you should follow Caroline's approach. Either a sibling, parent, or tutor should use Ultimate Phonics to sound out and repeat the words while your autistic child listens. You will need to be patient and consistent over a period of months to give his brain time to develop in response to the teaching.
If you are in Caroline's situation and have another child who is learning to read, you can achieve two goals at once. You can provide speech therapy for your autistic child while your other child becomes a good reader.
In addition to helping with speech, Ultimate Phonics also improves reading ability. This is of course the purpose for which it was originally designed.
Learning to read is unfortunately neglected for many autistic children. Because of the understandable focus on the differences and problems caused by autism, reading instruction tends to be pushed aside and de-prioritized.
Neglecting good reading instruction can be a big mistake for several reasons:
1) Reading is an essential life skill
We want autistic children to read as well as they possibly can. Reading is an important life skill for anyone, including those with autism. Our ideal goal is to eventually mainstream them as much as possible. This includes teaching them to read alongside improving their speech.
2) Phonics becomes neglected
The de-prioritizing of reading causes proven methods like phonics to be tossed aside or minimized. Mountains of scientific evidence shows that phonics is a key component of effective reading instruction. This holds true for autistic children as well.
3) The speech therapy benefits of phonics are lost
When you teach them to read with a scientifically designed program like Ultimate Phonics, it may have the additional benefit of improving their speech ability. If phonics is neglected or downplayed, this benefit is lost.
When you teach your autistic child consistently with Ultimate Phonics, you will see improvement in reading ability. You may also see significant improvement in speech ability.
An important part of the therapy mix
There is a lot of speculation about the causes and best treatments for autism. One thing we know for sure is that the human brain has great plasticity. It is able to change and modify itself to an amazing degree through learning and practice. Just as a dyslexic can become a good reader or a stroke victim can recover his lost speech, there is reason to believe autistic children can dramatically improve their speech and reading with the right teaching.
Ultimate Phonics is a teaching tool that focuses on the speech sounds in spoken words and their relation to letter patterns in written words. It is primarily a reading program, but it also makes a great speech therapy tool because of the way it teaches students to hear and speak the component sounds of speech. Its direct, systematic design helps to develop the ability to hear and speak speech sounds, which is exactly what is needed for autistic children.