Monday, November 16, 2009

Autism and vocabulary lessons

I've shared before that Nathan is diagnosed with Autism or Asperger's Syndrome. We've known this for years and have worked hard throughout his life to help him learn. Autism has many faces and as the trite saying goes, "If you've met one person with autism, you've met one person with autism."

One of the many reasons we've chosen to return to homeschooling has to do with Nathan's unique learning style. Language has always been a terrible struggle for him. He is a visual learner and thinker. This year, one of my goals is to improve his vocabulary. Children with autism generally have very narrow interests. So we've learned to use those interests to help him learn. Nathan loves the Geronimo Stilton books. We've been reading them for years. I think he loves the humor and the illustrations. If you've never read one of these books (which are geared for elementary students), a word is often illustrated as to it's meaning. For instance, if the word zoom appears, it will somehow be printed to look as if it is zooming across the page.

Well, I decided to use the rich vocabulary in these books to create lessons for Nathan. The last two weeks we worked on 12 words from book one, Lost Treasure of the Emerald Eye. The greatest thing happened when we were studying Shakespeare on Friday: We came across one of the vocabulary words (respectable) and HE KNEW WHAT IT MEANT! I love when my world comes together like that. The other great thing about this lesson is that he likes doing it (ok, most of it) and he is working independently for the most part.

Here's how it works. I give Nathan a list of words to find in the book. Last week I made him find the words (remember, he's read these books about a million times) and write down the page number and what he thinks the word means. This week I gave him the page numbers (he was a little disappointed). After he has this accomplished, we go over the actual meanings of the words and compare his definitions. I then have him learn the definitions by using quizlet, which he again LOVES! Finally, I have him write one sentence and draw a simple illustration using the word. He's not as thrilled about this part.

He does seem to be learning new vocabulary this way. We have about 30 of these books so I think we'll be working on this for the rest of the year. Click the link at the bottom (I think I've got this right) to see Lesson 2. I'll get lesson one up when I get a chance.

Lesson 2

1 comment:

Jerry McGowan said...

Great post! I am a college sophomore with a dual major in Physics and Mathematics @ University of California, Santa Barbara. By the way, i came across these excellent education flashcards. Its also a great initiative by the FunnelBrain team. Amazing!!!

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