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So my kiddo has ASD, generalized anxiety disorder, ADHD, and Tourettes. We have a pretty good handle on academics actually, but the one tough spot still seems to be vocabulary. His reading comprehension and vocabulary are lower than the rest of his academic areas and the reading comprehension we handle by having him read everything aloud and answer questions to show comprehension while he reads, and that seems to work well. Vocabulary is still an obstacle though. We go over vocabulary words before each reading from a study guide but there are just so many more words that come up in the reading that he doesn't know, that I feel like a separate vocabulary program might be good. What have others found works well to increase vocabulary in kiddos who can't naturally pick up meaning from context clues?

Edited by OrganicJen
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I would do some kind of structured academic vocabulary. If you can't find something that does word roots plus just "big" words, you might alternate lessons in more than one kind of program. Or use a word root program on the side that is not meant to be multi-year (Vocabulary Vine has regular and science roots editions--one year each program). 

 

I have seen Sadlier Oxford mentioned, and what I've seen of it looks really good.

 

I would also do it through high school. I know some people don't do formal vocab at all or stop in high school, but I had vocab all through high school and found it beneficial even though I do easily pick up words from context.

 

You might have to use a program a little behind where you think he ought to be.

 

My son likes to make vocab cards--word on front written with syllabication with variations (different parts of speech) and related words listed below it. On the back, a definition, the word used in a sentence (can come straight from a book--doesn't have to be original), and then synonyms, antonyms, and attention to any roots it contains. 

 

Books like The Reader's Handbook have reference pages indicated common prefixes and suffixes for nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc. 

 

I would also practice using verbs in different tenses.

 

If he understands grammar patterns, that might reinforce meanings for him--knowing this is a typical noun spot or modifier spot and so on could help him realize what kind of word something is in context even if he can't get an exact definition. 

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English has much of its derivation from Latin and Greek.

So that it can be very helpful to learn Latin and Greek Roots.

I just found a page that lists 42 common Greek and 42 common Latin roots.

 

If he learned one of each every day.  After 6 weeks, he will be able decode most English words.

With the page printed out, he could use that instead of dictionary most times.

 

Here's a link to the page:

https://d3jc3ahdjad7x7.cloudfront.net/1Wfu6ZLa3Dx2jxFtkGxgyFP5iVqUQNJ2yWyEqNu6ljtNEkJ1.pdf

 

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You can also do semantic mapping. This is like -- you take a topic or a word, and write it in the middle of a piece of paper. Then you write word associations with that word, and then you can review the paper. It's a nice visual strategy that's supposed to be good for autism.

 

Also synonyms and antonyms can help.

 

For my son I also re-read the same thing to him a lot, I think that helps. He is fairly new to being able to ask "what does that word mean?" And sometimes he will ask it the 2nd or 3rd time I reading him a story.

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I just googled and the examples I saw all looked more advanced than what I have seen.

 

I have seen ones that are like: animals, then zoo animals or farm animals or jungle animals or ocean animals, then the names of the animals.

 

Ones my son has done lately (he does them in therapy) are: Christmas in the middle, then from there Christmas tree, and from there ornaments and lights. And presents -- then examples of toys. Then holiday -- and then other holidays.

 

He has done birthday party lately, and had stuff like cake, candles, make a wish; and presents; and play games; and sing "Happy Birthday."

 

Edit: it can be an introduction to graphic organizers too, and if he likes graphic organizers you can use them a lot.

Edited by Lecka
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A few years ago we used Vocabulary from Classical Roots and it seemed like he couldn't generalize. So he would learn the words in a lesson but it didn't help him with new words he would encounter with the same roots. I think the reasoning skills to make those generalizations just weren't there. I'm almost thinking now I need to go back and maybe work on phonics and decoding in general. He was unfortunately in public school the first 6 years and I posted before about thinking I needed to reteach reading with a phonics program because with new words he needs help to sound them out, but then I felt his reading improved so I dropped the idea. But I'm wondering now if he improves his decoding if the vocabulary issues would be easier to approach.

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My son doesn't always generalize from roots to regular vocabulary either (he is good with context clues, so he probably doesn't see the point), but I bet that using those word maps Lecka pointed out could help with generalizing roots. 

 

I think Crimson Wife is the one who usually plugs the Sadlier Oxford books, so I can't take credit. 

 

Ironically, since my son has always been one to want to use the right terms for things he learns, and he picks up on context easily, he often struggles with terminology for science and such. Not in "understanding" it, but in remembering it, and knowing that it matters. I think he doesn't know how to remember it on purpose. 

 

Your plan to revisit phonics sounds solid. This might sound funny, but maybe he needs more syllabication work--roots are usually syllables, and I know that my son tends to hear language as sound and probably stores it in the sound part of his brain. Then it's tricky for him to retrieve isolated bits and pieces doing language-based work. He retrieves chunks, and much of it is stored in a pretty linear order--by time order or some other such black and white way vs. with relationships that are based on characteristics defined by the topic. His tutor has read up on this a bit (she has both a music background and a speech and hearing disorders background), and it sounds like that is a typical ASD thing. Anyway, if your son has some issues with decoding, maybe drawing attention to syllables would draw attention to roots simultaneously or give you an in to teach him roots more effectively later.

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Yes that makes sense to me. If he sees the syllables better first then studying word roots will be more meaningful. What makes it tough with him is he doesn't pick up on context clues either. So words that he's heard or read but doesnt know the meaning of just remain meaningless to him...he just ignores them like those word don't matter. He doesn't even try to define them until I stop him and ask and then he guesses something that isn't anywhere close and ignores any context clues or word root clues. But maybe if we remediate reading from whatever they taught him in public school and we build a strong phonetic based reading strategy, he will see the words in a different way that may help the vocabulary programs actually work. I also like the word mapping ideas I'll look into that too.

Edited by OrganicJen
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So today he read the word, consumable, as, combustible, and he just read on as if it was fine and I had to stop and ask him what that word was etc. Other times he just makes a nonsense word when he comes upon a new word and just reads on like he didn't notice that he just read a word that he obviously doesn't know the meaning of. This realky makes me think that in public school they must have just taught sight word reading or something.

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Just because this is a current issue for us ---- does he ever ask what a word means? My son has had this as a goal in speech therapy recently, basically it's still a goal. I'm not really sure how she teaches it, specifically -- it's at school. But it's one of those things, I can tell he has worked on it some at school.

 

But it has been like he doesn't understand the concept of "if you're reading or listening and you don't understand a word, or don't understand something, you should ask or re-read or something."

 

Anyway -- for my son, he has only ever asked when I am reading (out loud) stuff that is pretty easy and and enjoyable to him, and on the second or third read through.

 

So it's obviously pretty hard for him to maintain listening overall plus pick out a word he doesn't know, and care that he doesn't know the meaning, and then ask the question.

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But I think some of these "self-monitor your reading" issues are part of reading comprehension, too. So that self-monitoring and knowing to notice there is a problem, is part of reading comprehension, even when it's also part of vocabulary or decodeing.

 

We are probably not really too that level of working on reading comprehension, but I think you would find ideas for this in reading comprehension.

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But I think some of these "self-monitor your reading" issues are part of reading comprehension, too. So that self-monitoring and knowing to notice there is a problem, is part of reading comprehension, even when it's also part of vocabulary or decodeing.

 

We are probably not really too that level of working on reading comprehension, but I think you would find ideas for this in reading comprehension.

Yes that makes sense to me. That's why I'm more and more thinking about going back and remediating reading because maybe it all stems from those issues. In math we took a step back and switched to math u see at a lower level and it has been a big help so maybe in reading we should take a step back too.

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http://www.readingrockets.org/article/seven-strategies-teach-students-text-comprehension

 

Number one on this sounds like what you are describing.

 

With my son he needs the work on phonics/decoding.

 

He also needs the work on reading comprehension strategies.

 

And vocabulary instruction.

 

And fluency instruction.

 

I think, keep in mind, a lot of reading remediation is going to target decoding.

 

Which is important -- but it may not include reading comprehension.

 

The good thing about reading comprehension is you can do it with read-alouds. And if he does awesome with it with read-alouds, he may not really need much (or any) separate practice on reading comprehension.

 

But if he does need it you can work on it at the same time, instead of going through decodeing and only then realizing he needs the comprehension stuff, too.

 

I have an older child where I had to do separate fluency stuff with him (a lot) and I had not thought he would need it, I thought he would get where I wanted with just decoding and I didn't realize.

 

But I do think your idea sounds good! It does sound like he would benefit from reading remediation or review. And some programs do include reading comprehension strategies (and fluency and vocabulary) too.

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I'm actually using AAR 1 with my younger son, it's a long story, but he's in public school and I like what they do with him for reading comprehension a LOT.  His teacher is great, he gets a lot of time for it, because they do some in reading group and some in speech therapy.

 

But he is grouped with kids who are better reader/decoders than he is, some by a LOT, and they are near each other for the comprehension stuff (which is also language stuff for my son, and very useful and very functional for him), but when the other kids in the group don't really need decoding I don't think they do enough. 

 

We've just had the word "dash" as a confusing word to him when it was in AAR, and then just by chance we have come across this word two other places in the past week (in childrens books).  It's better but it's like it's still a weird word to him.  It's something, though. 

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I've heard a lot of good things about AAR. What is tough with my kiddo is that his reading interest level is around 7th grade so we stick to books at that level and he can understand them as long as he reads aloud so I can frequently stop him to check for comprehension. But I feel like so many words come up that he doesn't know every day that it's holding him back.

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Here's another thing that just happened.... A week ago he read something with the word, coniferous, so I asked what it meant and he didn't know. So we talked about it at length and about the root word of cone and pine cones etc. It was a whole conversation and it seemed clear he understood the word. Then today the word coniferous came up and he had no clue what it meant. I prompted him and cued him and still he had no clue. We had to basically start from scratch again learning the word just like we did a week ago.

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That happens here too.

 

Reading programs that might be better for older kids -- High Noon, Barton, Rewards, for ones that get mentioned here. And Corrective Reading for comprehension has been mentioned here for autism.

Edited by Lecka
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If you think "coniferous" is an important word for him for what he is studying, you might make it a word he reviews. For my older son in public school I could see them having an introduction to a word like that and then still having reminders, or having it on a word search or crossword or something. They do that for content words.

 

I think for some things you pick the more important words and go over them.

 

But it is hard to do that with every word. But there might be pre-made stuff for content words on topics, that you could find by topic.

 

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Browse/Search:science%20vocabulary

 

Maybe stuff like this? I have heard ESL stuff can be good for vocabulary too (wrt my younger son I have had this mentioned, he is younger though).

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My younger son did a butterfly unit at school last year with differentiated instruction, where he did have a simplified version and more review of the same simplified stuff. And I have been really surprised at how much he has retained from it, he brings stuff up from it sometimes still.

 

And usually this has been the kind of thing where -- there's just too much new vocabulary and he is lost.

 

So I do think at a certain point it is good to do differentiated instruction, and cut down on the volume in some ways, if it is getting to the point where there is just not retention.

 

I have had this with my older son too, when his teacher had him go from 10 spelling words a week to 5 spelling words a week, his spelling actually improved, because he could actually learn 5 words a week, but 10 was too many and he wouldn't spend enough time on any of them, and on top of that, he could do really well for him (learning 5 words if he even did that) and still get 5/10 on his spelling test, which was really disappointing after he would work hard on his list.

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I think too, you might try doing a quick search on Google and then going to either image or video. If you are explaining a vocabulary word -- you can get a lot of images easily from google image.

 

If you are doing a long word study and he doesn't remember it easily, I think look for images or a you tube video, and see if that helps him more.

 

Or do both and see if that helps.

 

My son likes it when I search things on google image, and sometimes YouTube videos are a bust but sometimes there is a good one that's easy to find.

 

You also might look at non-fiction books from the library that have nice color photos, if they have more appealing photos than his main curriculum.

Edited by Lecka
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I think too, you need to think about your goals. This is depressing but I think really better.

 

Is your goal to target reading comprehension and vocabulary across the day? Then you probably need to have his science reading be at a lower level, where there are fewer hard vocabulary words.

 

Is your goal for him to understand some science concepts and gain some science knowledge? Then you probably shouldn't expect him to pick that up so much from his weakest area (reading comprehension and vocabulary) and do things like -- videos, projects, or just ------- instead of having him read and summarize, you can teach it to him in a way where you present it to him as manageably as you can.

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Depending on your situation, you might be totally free to adapt to whatever is the best fit for how your son learns best and what is a good reading level for him that won't have such a overwhelming amount of vocabulary. You can have his science reading be from library books and summarize key points from his science curriculum for him, if that is going to be better.

 

If you have to use a certain curriculum, because you are in a program that requires it, you can do an IEP maybe. They might have options to go along with the curriculum where it has been adapted for some students who have language difficulties, and that might be better.

 

And then if you are seeing he would benefit from remediating his weak areas from when he was in public school -- that is good to do!

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