The “I Want to Read Program” is a reading enrichment program for individuals with ASD. This program was created to service those with autism who have difficulty reading. Research indicates that 1 in 5 school aged children have reading problems. Reading problems is considered a language based disorder, where individuals who struggle with learning language are more likely to have reading problems. Impairment in language and communication is a major clinical feature of autism spectrum disorders [ASD; American Psychiatric Association, 2013]. This language comprehension disorder underlies the reading process. Children with a mild to moderate form of autism who have at least some language often struggle with reaching their academic and adaptive potential due to struggles in the subjects that require extensive reading.
The ability to read effects most aspects of life from reading road signs, to instructions, to recipes, to TV guides, to learning various subjects, to navigating the internet, to reading for enjoyment. Although proficiency to read is embedded in many everyday skills, there has been a lack of evidenced based research for effective reading programs for individuals with ASD, until recently. In 2015, Murdaugh, Maximo, and Kana published their research showing that individuals with ASD who received reading instruction following the Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes Visualizing and Verbalizing (V/V) for Language Comprehension and Thinking exhibited significantly greater brain connectivity and improvements in reading comprehension that were correlated with increases in brain connectivity following this reading approach, as compared to the control group. Also in 2015, Murdaugh, Deshpande, and Kana published research showing significant increase in brain activity of right-hemisphere following this reading approach. Overall, these two studies highlighted that the V/V reading intervention can lead to changes in brain responses and increased reading comprehension in individuals with ASD.
The Knapp Center for Childhood Development was awarded a $5,000 grant from Autism Speaks to kickstart the “I want to Read” program, which utilizes the evidenced based methods of the Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes program. This reading program will be part of Enrichment program for 2017-2018, and be offered as part of our after-school programs.