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Curriculum recs for ASD child


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I am reviewing what I am using for school for my ASD 6yo, child #3, and I think there is room for significant improvement.

By age she is mid way through grade 1 (jan-dec school year). By ability she is just (finally!) beginning to learn to read CVC words, no concept of writing but a solid late 2nd grade level in mathematics. She is on a k-1st grade level understanding wise for all other subjects however her complete lack of reading/writing makes these challenging. She also needs things to be "orderly", if it looks messy (eg miquon) or feels disjointed in any way she cannot cope. Neat, orderly, lined up, precise, and explicit, she is that kind of kid.

So, I am after recommendations of tried and true curriculum for the early schooling years that appeal to and have worked for other ASD kids in the hopes that it will also work for us. Main subjects we are looking for are reading/LA, mathematics, and science. They must not be overly parent intensive especially in preparation, open and go is perfect, I will have 4 kiddos homeschooled next year, K-7th, and if I need to prep the lessons ahead of time then they just do not happen, period.

I will also have a very bright and advanced but young K kiddo next year so suggestions for curricula that I can combine teaching the 2 younger kids would be great. They are at very similar grade/ability levels despite a 2.5 year age gap.

Thanks for getting through all that ? Any suggestions most welcome, I am hoping there is something out there that will make the schooling side of raising her less challenging and intense.

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For getting her content learning so far, what has she been using? Is she hitting walls in those methods? Like if she has been joining in with siblings for science and history and that is still working, then it's working. It sounds like whatever you're doing in math is working. So the thing you're trying to solve is LA. What do you think is the hold-up there? Developmental readiness, language, phonological processing, attention, something else? For my ds, reading was held up by a combination of phonological processing issues and language delays that were undiagnosed. You can run the Barton screening tool (free), just to make sure there are no glitches so glaring that she needs some kind of foundational intervention. For language testing, did they do any when she was diagnosed? 

Language affects EVERYTHING for school work, so unfortunately language has become our issue. It's no shock that one area is becoming unusually advanced, but there's sort of that balance of redirecting that brain area to other areas to give them the chance to work too. For us, what was very advanced balanced out when we started evening out the demands. And that kinda sucks. Like do what you want on that and what you think is best. That's just how it rolled with us. The brain only has so much energy, and it's gonna go somewhere. 

My two cents is work (on your end, with planning) on the stuff that's not working, not the stuff that is. Like if you're going to plan or buy curriculum, put it into the areas you have struggled to make happen, not the ones that are sort of mildly important that happen naturally lots of ways in a house with so much learning. Like this year, with my ds, I'm going to work through a series of 50 books on emotional awareness issues. We're going to talk about them and connect them to the Story Grammar Methodology to work on narrative and problem solving skills. That's important stuff. Building narratives is part of that K5-3rd progression, so where is she at with that? That's what we're having to work on. 

If you have the time, do the Barton pretest and just see what happens. It's NOT a dyslexia screening, but if she fails that then she's not really ready to go into any normal phonics/reading program, which will give you some information. If you report that, people can give you more ideas. Like if she passes that (which would be awesome), then people might suggest xyz. But if she fails that, then there's more digging to figure out why and what you want to do about it. And it's free and really only takes maybe 10-15 minutes.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've got a 9yo DS with ASD - started homeschooling him halfway through first grade. He doesn't have decoding issues but he does have comprehension issues, so my language arts recommendations might not be exactly what you're looking for.

For math, we've had a lot of success with Math Mammoth. The lessons are very clean & orderly on the page - no excess graphics, etc. She teaches multiple approaches to solving a problem; for example, to figure out 7 + 6, she uses dots & sticks first. Then she introduces the idea that you can break 6 into 3 + 3 and use "10 buddies" to get (7 + 3) + 3. Stuff like that permeates all her lessons. I have found some of the alternative methods to be helpful for my kiddo; many aren't, though. Anyway...I tried Singapore Math out of the gate with my kiddo and that was not fun for either of us. We've both been much happier with Math Mammoth. I have found her lessons to provide more scaffolding than Singapore.

I also use C-rods and base-10 blocks a lot with him.

For language arts, our focus is comprehension so I've used a lot of Lindamood Bell materials (sold through their publishing arm, Gander Publishing). What I like about their materials is that while we focus on strengthening reading, the passages are all about things in either the natural world or history, so I haven't had to do much in terms of history/science for my kid. It's all done through reading.

Like PeterPan, I have found that reading affects *everything*, so I made the deliberate decision to drop history & science as dedicated subjects and instead, spend that time on shoring up reading. This coming year (his 4th grade year) will be the first time I attempt a dedicated social studies (geography) and science (Mystery Science) program with him. The past 2 years have been all about strengthening his reading skills. So, that's something to consider.

But back to program recommendations....

Spelling You See has been a huge success for us. It's one of the few programs we have used from Day 1 that still gets done. I picked this program because DS is a strong visual processor, and this program works on getting students to recognize certain letter combos that occur frequently in words. Students color-code a single passage for an entire week, doing copywork for the first 3-4 days (depending on what level you use) and then doing dictation for the last 1-2 days. Passages are non-fiction, so again, we get the double-whammy of working on language skills while learning about stuff in science/history. Love this program!

Finally, I've also had great success with Linguistic Development through Poetry (from IEW). I picked this program because DS has a great memory and learns lines from TV shows & books really easily. I figured if he could sing the whole Nick Jr theme-song canon, then he could also learn some Emily Dickinson or Ogden Nash. 2 years and 38 poems later, I am so glad I picked this program. It has done wonders for us, in terms of growing his vocabulary (and our confidence as a mom-son homeschooling team!) and helping him picture the story. Plus it's a great way to pass time...and the grandparents love it. ? 

Poetry memorization is probably a little more time-intensive on your part than you wanted, but I thought I'd put it out there because it really has made a big difference for us. It takes me about 20 minutes to get through a poetry lesson with him each day. Poetry & spelling are the 2 subjects that he is happy to do anytime, anywhere.

Good luck with your curriculum hunt! There are so many details to consider. If you have any further questions, feel free to PM me!

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Two of our kiddos are ASD. DS6 is mixed levels 2 & 3 (so more severe on the spectrum) and DS9 is level 2 (more moderate, but with other medical and learning differences). Both boys only turned their respective ages within the past month.

DS6 has done really, really well this year with ASDReading (a sister company to Reading Kingdom, if I recall). Actually, both boys have done well with it (DS9 is, besides being ASD, also dyslexic). Caveat: ASDReading is specifically geared toward ASD kiddos -- it is highly visual with no verbal output required from the child, and as little verbal explanation as is possible. And it's whole word, not phonics. After trying the OG / phonics way with DS9 for years (and only having a frustrated child who hated reading to show for it), we gave this a try. And DS6 has severe receptive language disorders/delays, and his rigidity is what characterizes him as more severe on the spectrum... so the "rules that are only rules until they aren't" were making phonics instruction a hot mess for him. I finally pulled up the ASDReading in a moment of desperation, because now BOTH boys hated reading (and these are boys who knew their letters and letter sounds before age 2, and were obsessed with letters and books prior to "learning to read"). ASDReading has been, hands-down, the best curricula decision we've made.

DS9 does do a phonics-based spelling program, still (which is OG-based), and I will add the same for DS6 in a year or two. 

I have no recommendations for writing, because writing for DS9 has been very difficult, physically. He has very low muscle tone due to some other medical issues, so it's almost all copywork at this point. DS6 loves writing, but only does so informally at this point. 

For math, we have used Miquon for a couple years now. DS9 has always enjoyed it and retained it. DS6 started with it recently and enjoys it, too. Both boys are naturally more maths inclined. 

For content subjects we have, to this point, used MP's enrichment and read alouds. I am adding in Science in the Ancient World next year, alongside read alouds, and I am planning on Ancients, but haven't yet found a core for Ancients. I'll probably just go with Greek Myths, since they are interested in that, and I have what I need to teach it.

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  • 1 month later...

For LA, I'd recommend Rod and Staff or Essentials in Writing. For Math, Rod and Staff or Saxon. For science, I used the Let's Read and Find Out series at that age. My ASD child also struggled in reading but took off when he was exposed to direct instruction in phonics plus a list of basic sight words, which I reinforced with the 2005 Houghton Mifflin reading series. Both of my sons responded so well to, and have such fond memories of, the Houghton Mifflin stories that we still have the books. All of these are pretty much open and go. HTH!

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  • 3 months later...

I don't have any current recommendations as we homeschooled my ASD kid when he was that age and he is now almost 21.  But I do want to just give you some assurance that it is ok to be behind.  My ASD kid didn't read by himself until age 9, and even then, he struggled.  He was only at a 6th grade reading level by around 9th grade.  He has always been a few years behind in reading.

However, I discovered that his comprehension skills were fantastic if he were read TO.  So, I got Learning Ally for him and he could listen on the computer or cell phone (back then I used an iPod,  but I don't think people use those at much these days) and could keep up that way.  

School frustrated  him.  Even into late Elem. school he would get frustrated and break pencils and throw them across the room in frustration.  He had a death grip when writing and would complain that his arms and shoulders hurt from writing because he gripped so hard.  Nothing we did stopped the death grip.

And just some encouragement.  He is now in college, and getting all As and Bs.  He has even taken a Shakespearean class!  And he did well.  With no help!

I think my point is......relax a little.  It will come.  It may just be painfully slow.

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