Using MFW K for an older child with ASD?

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Using MFW K for an older child with ASD?

Unread post by mshanson3121 »

Has anyone here used MFW K for an older child (ex. age 7?). My daughter has ASD (high functioning). She is very smart, but emotionally/socially more on par with a 5 year old. We have used some various phonics programs over the last couple years, and it has been a real struggle. In part I suspect because she just wasn't ready. We did get her to the point where she could fairly consistently read CVC sentences like, "That cat sat on the mat. The wet dog ran at the cat." But she was really struggling to move past that, and I knew that she wasn't really decoding as much as memorizing, guessing at words etc... We finally, two months ago, dropped all phonics instruction and just let her read what she wants, when she wants, and her reading exploded. She went from really not liking reading, to reading 1-2 hours per day. Which is awesome!

However, as I mentioned, I also know that she is not decoding. She is reading via context/picture clues, guessing and using memorized/sight words. Which on one hand is fine, in doing this, she has been able to complete the Free/Treadwell Primer, many Dr. Seuss books, is working on the Elson Primer etc... She can read a lot of words, but only ones that she can figure out from clues. So, she might be able to read "monkey" but not "how". And, of course when she comes to a word that she can't figure out from clues, she's stuck. She can't/won't decode it. I'm honestly not sure if it's that she can't decode or won't (she has a lot of perfectionist tendencies and very low tolerance for making mistakes, so she shuts down very quickly if she makes a mistake, doesn't know something etc). So I can see it being a bit of both - partly that decoding is harder for her, so that in turn just makes her not want to try.

Now, she knows her 26 basic phonograms (short vowel), and we had introduced sh, th, ch etc... She is still mixing up short vowel sounds sometimes, and still mixes up b/d, p/q sometimes. Now, if I break a word down into sounds for her /c/ /a/ /t/ she can blend that into cat. But, she struggles doing it herself.

I'm really torn on what to do. I know that she NEEDS some phonics work, because she needs to learn how to blend/decode words because there's not always going to be pictures there to help her. She's only going to be able to progress so far on her own. But where do I start? Should we go back to MFW K, and start at the beginning, revisiting the basic phonograms, cementing the vowel sounds and blending? Perhaps moving through it quicker? Or, start with MFW 1 and work through it slower? Whatever we do needs to be a short lesson that will NOT overwhelm her.
Julie - Staff
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Re: Using MFW K for an older child with ASD?

Unread post by Julie - Staff »

Although we do not have a special needs consultant on staff, we do like to look at the "whole child" when making all placement decisions. Academics is of course one facet of a child's development, but we also look at physical development (sitting, writing), social/emotional development (listening, staying on task, accepting correction), and spiritual development (we all work on this far longer than we work on academics). Where is she at as a whole child? K and 1st grade are so much more than reading. We encourage you to look at what fits your daughter overall.

If you are in doubt, we would recommend beginning in K and building for success rather than seeing her struggle. And K will meet your goals of short lessons that will not overwhelm her. Here is a post I enjoyed, from a mom sharing wisdom about placing a child at his developmental age: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7820&p=101350#p101350

As far as academics, again that is just one facet of a child's development, but I had a son who was a great memorizer, too. When I brought him home to school in 3rd grade, we did basic phonics - even though he had taught himself to read before he started kindergarten. Like you, I could see that a foundation would be essential as he started approaching more and more words, and he even had missed out on alphabet dexterity for tasks like alphabetizing. So, I am a fan of making sure the foundation is firm, no matter how bright the child. I wouldn't so much worry about progress in decoding or blending, since that takes some kids more time and practice than others. However, I would want her to have the time she needs for instruction and practice in the basics of how phonics works. And of course I would want to meet her needs in other facets of her development, as well.

Hoping other experienced moms get time this week to share more!
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Re: Using MFW K for an older child with ASD?

Unread post by allgrace »

Hi, it sounds like your daughter could just need more time and practice. I think I would do a review of k so that she is starting from a place that will be easy for her. You mentioned she is more emotionally like a 5 year old, so like Julie mentioned, it is important to look at the whole child and k sounds like it could be a good fit for her. It is better to start off easy than too hard. I find it easier to speed through a level than to slow down.
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Re: Using MFW K for an older child with ASD?

Unread post by TriciaMR »

You might look into something like All About Reading or The Logic of English. She still may not be ready to read, though.
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Re: Using MFW K for an older child with ASD?

Unread post by MelissaB »

Please forgive me if this is not a popular reply ... :~

One of our daughters had trouble reading when she was younger. She had been doing a phonics-based program since she was two years old (yes, I was that kind of mom 8| ). By age five, she still wasn't reading . . at all.

We worked with a neurodevelopmentalist to see if it would help, and I'm so glad we did. The nd. advised us to use flash cards. Within a year, our daughter was reading well over 100 words. Within a year and a half, we'd lost count of the number of words she could read. Today, she's 13 and reads the KJV Bible with words like "tempestuous", etc. with great comprehension.

The truth is, we all are reading by memorizing pictures of words in our minds. We have to. Phonetic rules in our language are too inconsistent. Like, the word "h-o-m-e." The silent "e" after the "m" makes "o" say its long sound, right? Now spell comb. It should be "come" - - but it can't be, because "come" is come; which should be cumb ... right?

So if your daughter doesn't seem to be processing phonetically yet - Don't worry: she will. Just give her a few years.

In the meantime, she CAN READ - by memorizing images of words. . . Which is, actually, how most all of us read this post. ;)

Hope that's helpful! :-)
Blessings to you & your sweet girl!
Last edited by MelissaB on Fri Oct 27, 2017 7:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Using MFW K for an older child with ASD?

Unread post by lovekids83 »

Hi and welcome to the board! In rereading your post I definitely think MFW K as a "program" would be a good fit for her, but not as a "phonics" placement-KWIM. Learning the character qualities would be fabulous for a child with ASD (my husband has this, and it does take much more work on how to react to situations, so character/habits should be a definite focus for children with autism).

I would look at using Spelling to teach phonics through like a backdoor (MFW 1st does this, it is such a natural way to learn phonics). I have found that doing phonics as a dictation study is a wonderful encourager of spelling and reading. So below would be my recommendations:

Option #1-
MFW K as your main program
Natural Speller- reading the list orally, followed by copywork of spelling list, followed by dictation of new pattern. Rinse and repeat.
MFW 1st Bible reader is fabulous for a very early reader, as are Dr. Suess books(which are also great at strengthening phonological awareness/ sight word practice)

Option #2-
MFW 1st- but be a scribe for the writing exercises (you could even allow her to copy your scribing, if you want)
I would add a character quality/ habit that needs work to the top of the week and focus on it all week.
If math isn't an issue, than I would lean towards MFW 1st.
You could always do the dictation twice (the first day on a white board followed by on the student sheets- this would give her double practice for each new phonogram)

I personally loved the K program so much, that I am sad when people don't get to use it-LOL.

May the Lord bless your endeavors with you little one.

Brenda Berry
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Re: Using MFW K for an older child with ASD?

Unread post by mshanson3121 »

Thank you for all the input. @lovekids83, I know what you mean about MFW K being so lovely. I used it with my youngest and I loved it. I *want* to use it because I think it would be a really good fit for where she's at emotionally etc... So maybe I could just use the Bible, Science, character etc, without the phonics..
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Re: Using MFW K for an older child with ASD?

Unread post by lovekids83 »

I think that sounds like a great idea, you can always use the phonics as spelling practice as well. The Reading Lesson is a great primer to use with MFW 1st reader as it is phonics focused, but does include "KEY WORDS" and works well with slow and steady children. It could be followed up with MFW 1st grade entirely or another more complete primer like Phonics Pathways or Alphaphonics.

Hope you have a great year.
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