Spectrum Mom writes:
Why I Recommend Toon Books for Children with Autism
The growing number of children diagnosed with autism today presents many challenges for parents, educators, and society as a whole. As the mother of a boy with autism, I focus a lot of my attention on his reading, because reading is a skill that opens so many doors. While the supporters of that notion seem innumerable, reading support specifically designed for the child with autism is far harder to find.
Yet, in a way, this lack makes sense. Every reader with autism is different, and no one program could address all their needs. Many are reluctant readers, some are dyslexic, and some are hyperlexic (where the ability to read outstrips the ability to comprehend).
Still, readers with autism do share common traits. These include literal thinking, a need for structure, and a tendency to repetitive behaviors. At the very least, there should be book lists for parents and educators to try. I and others are working to provide those lists, and I have put TOON Books on mine.
My son has trouble with verbal processing, so he relies a lot on reading. At the same time, he struggles with comprehension. One possible reason is an impaired ability to visualize the story. With a TOON Book, my son can watch the story unfold on the page instead of trying to see it in his head. The pictures also provide clues for the child trying to decode words. TOON Books offer two ways for meaning to reach the reader, the text and the pictures.
Many books designed as early readers, especially chapter books, offer little picture support. And some illustrated books show incorrect information, or include pictures haphazardly. TOON Books give readers picture support that corresponds exactly to the story. This may sound like a small thing, but if you’ve ever tried to explain to a child why the pictured dragon is the wrong color, or encountered a picture two pages before or after the incident it illustrates, you know how confusing mismatches can be to the child reader. For the child reader with autism, such an error can ruin a book.
Most children with autism have difficulty “reading” the emotions of others. TOON Books can help with this because the exaggerated comic style shows mouse Benny’s happiness or monster Stinky’s anger so clearly.
The themes of TOON Books also help explain social interactions that may puzzle children, especially children with autism. Stinky doesn’t want anyone new in his space, but he finds out that a really weird stranger (an ordinary kid) can become a friend. Benny and Penny don’t like their cousin Bo because he breaks their toys, but they’re happy to play with him when he doesn’t.
But what appeals most to my son about TOON Books is what appeals to kid readers in general. Making sound effects is fun. Stories about monsters and mice are fun. Comics are fun. TOON Books are fun!
We’ve included a Q & A with Spectrum Mom after the jump:Share on Facebook