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AAS Question - When to move on?

Renee in NC

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My 8yo is doing AAS. He has almost finished Step 1 - he has 4 phonograms to go (the ones with numerous sounds.) The next step is Phonemic Awareness, BUT there is no way he can do this. He is receiving speech therapy now for this, but it will likely be a long time before he is able to pass the level.


Do I stop for now and come back to it later when he is able to do this?


(He is also using the I See Sam readers, but he is simply memorizing the words. He cannot blend sounds together at all.)

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Can't really offer any advice. We are using AAS and moved quickly through Steps 1, 2 and 3 so far. Could you pronounce the words slowly so that it is easy to hear the 2 sounds in the words. Sorry I don't have any better advice no experience with LD's hopefully someone else will come along and answer.

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Can't really offer any advice. We are using AAS and moved quickly through Steps 1, 2 and 3 so far. Could you pronounce the words slowly so that it is easy to hear the 2 sounds in the words. Sorry I don't have any better advice no experience with LD's hopefully someone else will come along and answer.


No, he can't hear individual words in sentences much less sounds in words.


I just want him to read so badly!

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I wouldn't do the readers with him if he is just memorizing them. That will just give you a bunch of stuff to un-learn later, and develop the bad habit of not wanting to sound out words.


If he doesn't hear the sounds, then I am not sure he will be able to do the spelling. I suppose you could just work with the spelling words with him. Showing him the individual sounds and such. You would eventually re-start the program for spelling.


This is more or less what I have done with my youngest who is also doing speech therapy (LiPS), though I did it with SL LA K instead of AAS. I have him trace the words, then tell me the letter sounds, then I sound it out and hold the sounds, mmmmmaaaaaat (Ok you can't really hold t ;) ). Then I pause long enough that if he hears it at all he can say the word. If he doesn't hear it then I move on and say it more quickly, mmmaat. If he doesn't get it this time I just say, "The word is mat!" We move on to the next word. We have been doing this for about 6 months, during most of which he didn't hear ANY of the words. It was all me doing 90% of the work. Now suddenly he is starting to hear it. Today out of 4 words he heard two on the long hold, one on the short hold and the last I had to tell him. It isn't going to win any speed records, but it is improvement.


You absolutely don't want him just memorizing words with the readers or AAS. Studies prove that only gets kids up to a 3rd grade reading level and leaves them pre-disposed to NOT want to sound out words at all. Then you have to fight a battle to teach them phonics.




Edited by siloam
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Phonemic awareness and being able to segment words is foundational to AAS. I don't see how he could progress without this crucial piece. He needs to be able to hear a sound and know what to write (or know which tile represents that sound). Otherwise, AAS would turn into another "memorize the letters in order" program.


However, you could have him work on parts of the first 4 steps with as far as he has progressed so far. You just don't want to go beyond step 4 until he is able to pass them. You could make up games based on them.


If he knows that when he looks at an M, he says /m/, then he might be able to begin doing some of these. You could start with words that use consonants you can draw out, like mmmmap. What is the first sound? If he doesn't know, then you say it & let him try to repeat it. You can also reverse the game. Have him say a word, and you tell him the first sound of that word. Have him watch your mouth while you say sounds--sometimes I find this helps my kids (we have a few auditory processing struggles here, not as severe as what you are working through). If they don't hear it correctly, I will have them watch as I overemphasize where in the mouth I am making the sound, so they can see it as well as hear it.


Another game we used to do--I'd tell my kids that I wanted to make a word like MAP. I pulled down the right tiles but mixed them up--PMA. Then I'd say, "I want to make map, can you help me pick the first sound? MMMMMap." Overemphasize & see if he can pick the first sound, or at least say it. If he can't, you say it for him & pull down the tile. "Here's mmmmmm. Mmmm is first." Then I picked another sound. For one of my kids I could go right in order, but the other heard first and last sounds easier than middle sounds, so I would go first, last & then middle. Vowels are easier to drag out, so maybe he'd have a better chance hearing that.


You could take the I See Sam readers & pull out words he has memorized, and do this same technique with them, to see if with exposure over time he can learn to associate the sounds and letters, and begin to blend.


It may be that even these suggestions are beyond your son right now. I don't know if you have visited the AAS Message board--there's a thread in the Special Needs group that had some other ideas you might find helpful, about LiPS and other therapies you can do at home.


This thread had a good link for activities you might try for one who is learning to associate letters with sounds.


This would be a good question to ask on there too.


It may be that you'll need to take a break from AAS--and that's ok. After your son reaches a certain level of proficiency, you'll be able to bring him back into it. In the meantime, keep practicing the phonograms. That in itself brings a certain level of phonemic awareness -- getting used to hearing the sounds in isolation.


Have you shown your speech therapist the next steps? I wonder if the therapist could help him work on skills leading up to Steps 2-4.


Well, just some thoughts! I hope you can find some ideas that will help. Merry :-)

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You could try this website:




And when he can hear some sounds, the easiest letters to blend together are m, n, l, and r.


I would start with the syllabary in the Webster's Speller, starting with the following long vowel syllables:


1. ma me mi mo mu my; na ne ni no nu ny; la le li lo lu ly; ra re ri ro ru ry

(a in a syllable is long as in ma-ker, na-ture, la-kers, ra-di-ant)


then short vowels

2. am em im om um; an en in on un


then the rest of the syllabary once he gets how to blend those.


Long vowels are easier to blend and also have the advantage of being both the sound and name of the letter.


The nice thing about this is that it will directly transition to multi syllable words, especially important for an older child.


Edit: you could also try a daily watching of the Letter Factory. Or, have your other children say the sounds of the letters with him.

Edited by ElizabethB
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