The Idea of an Essay, Volume 4

112 The Idea of an Essay: Volume 4 Autism, Literacy, and Special Education Adam Rinehart The teacher gently touches the student’s shoulder, and almost immediately, the student jumps as if he had been stung by a bee, covers his ears with his hands, and begins to rock back and forth. Quickly, the teacher is reminded that this particular student is autistic and does not like to be touched unless he initiates the touch. To calm down, the student begins to recite: “Mariah Carey, Lady Gaga, Toby Mac, John Legend….” The teacher is again amazed at this child’s incredible ability to memorize anything related to music. She knows that the student spends hours each day reciting hundreds of musical artists, hit songs, album release dates, and concert venues. This child is incredibly bright, and he has outstanding memory capabilities. The teacher sighs in frustration, “What can I do with a child who is so incredibly bright, yet cannot understand what is happening when I read a simple story or present basic literature concepts?” This is the question that many teachers ask in the education system today: “How do I effectively teach literacy skills to children with autism, and what tools might I use to get there?” Generally speaking, children with AutismSpectrumDisorder (ASD) struggle to some degree with reading and/or language deficiencies, and they often have difficulty interpreting texts (Whalon & Hart 243). Consequently, teachers have a great need for techniques that will help themmeet the individual needs of their students with ASD. The purpose of this essay is to explore the struggles that children with ASD face regarding literacy, and to present different teaching techniques designed to help children affected by ASD improve their reading comprehension and language abilities. Children with ASD experience a wide range of literacy struggles that can be related to different experiences or based on the symptoms of ASD. To understand these literacy struggles, Autism Spectrum Disorder and reading comprehension must be defined. Additionally, the relationship between ASD and reading