Working with Autistic Children and Adults
Over the years Toe by Toe has proved effective in providing autistic children with reading skills.
We make no claims to be experts on autism by any means. That said, we believe that being autistic in itself should not prevent children from learning to read. We also believe that the essential sense of ‘progress’ children gain when studying Toe by Toe helps to draw the child out into the world. This has generally been our experience with the autistic children we have worked with.
Certainly, if an autistic child is at the ‘mild’ end of the autistic spectrum, the rigid, methodical approach Toe by Toe uses is often just what they require. Why? Because Toe by Toe provides that sense of ‘routine’ and ‘familiarity’ which is so important for autistic children.
Toe By Toe Successfully Teaches Autistic Children and Adults To Read:
Steven Gets his First Job:
“Hi Frank. You won’t know me but I came to a training night you were running for a bunch of primary school teachers 4 years ago. I was a mum who you let on the course. Loved the course. I brought in a SPN teacher for my Autistic son who left education at the age of 19 not being able to read or write. Four years on he is reading his third David Walliam’s book. He has gained so much confidence. He’s reading the telly guide. Will pick up a magazine and read little bits and will order a meal off the menu. His confidence has just got him paid employment at a DIY store. Stacking shelves, facing up, order picking and now he’s just started working the tills. The management are in awe of him. I just want to say a massive thank you for allowing me onto the Toe by Toe course. From myself and my 23 year old son, Steven”
Carol Winterbottom – proud parent, Manchester, U.K. – March 2017
From Despair to University:
“I am the proud parent of a now nearly 18 year old with Autism, Dyslexia and Dyspraxia. I persuaded his primary school to implement a ‘back to basics’ English program as his reading ability was very poor, with no progresse at all over the previous year.
They chose Toe by Toe and implemented structured daily one to one time to complete the course. This started at the beginning of Year 5. At the end of Year 6 when the above average ability class took their SATS tests, my son scored the HIGHEST mark in reading in the whole class!
Prior to this implementation of Toe by Toe, we had sat in a very difficult meeting demanding that our son (who already had a full time Statement of Educational Needs) receive the one to one specialist help that he needed and wanted. The Head of the Council’s SEN Department eventually agreed saying: ‘As long as you don’t expect him to be as good as his peers’. Such a bad attitude and low expectations which I was delighted to prove him wrong about.
Our son has gone on to achieve 10 A* to C grade GCSEs including English Language, English Literature and Maths. He is currently preparing to take his A levels next year and will apply to University to study History. All of this was unthinkable 10 years ago and his future was an unknown quantity. Thank you for your work, for which I have the highest praise and admiration”
Mrs H. Bell – proud parent, U.K. – October 2016
How Our Autistic Son is Empowered by Toe By Toe:
“My son Arthur is 15 years old. He has autism complicated by intellectual disability and other difficulties. He was ten years in school and never learned to read or write above a very minimal level – perhaps that of a 4-year old – although many 5-year-olds read much better.
Cutbacks in special education support here in Ireland meant he could not function in school and so we have to home school him. We immediately began Toe by Toe with him. We had suggested Toe by Toe many times suggested to his teachers in the past.
All I can say is that even with the very slow progress we have made over a mere two weeks it is already apparent that he has begun to comprehend what reading is about like never before. He is attempting it outside of our 20 minute sessions in many situations. We are afraid to believe that he might actually read one day, but we are excited by the possibility as never before.
I am writing however to thank you for another reason.
We stick loyally to the 20-minute rule. Within that time frame we have found that we encounter deep-seated fears and psychological issues that he needs reassurance about. So we might spend 15 of the 20 mins chatting to him about those, if need be. He often becomes frustrated whenever a dot goes in a box, for example. So we spend whatever time it takes explaining how the dots are actually there to help him and how he must overcome that anger and fear in order to progress.
Gradually, he is losing his fear of failure, which makes him more receptive and able to learn. We speak of Keda Cowling as a kind woman who has worked out exactly how to help people like him. We tell him that the dots are not a judgment but opportunities for learning. The these opportunities are revealed to us so we can help him better. This way, he can learn better by himself by his own choice. He clearly feels empowered by this. It’s having an amazing, positive effect on him in many other areas of his life as well.
It is very, very early days and Arthur may never learn to read. We might find that he truly cannot. But the process of doing Toe by Toe is proving valuable to us and to our son in ways that we had not at all anticipated.
I thought that it would be nice to share Arthur’s story with you. Very likely many other people have had similar experiences!”
M.C. Parent in Ireland – 2008
Autistic Adult Conquers Reading
“A 22-year-old lady who was autistic was having problems in her job and was severely lacking in confidence. She needed to be able to structure reports. Having been let down in education in her early years it took a while for me to gain her confidence. However, with Toe by Toe she very soon realised her true capabilities. Thanks to Toe by Toe‘s structure she was reading, slowly at first, then faster as she moved further into the book.
I have many stories of students who had all but given up on school until I started them on Toe by Toe. As someone who has been using Toe by Toe for 20 years, I would say that it is a great confidence builder as well as a wonderful tool to use to teach reading.”
Keith Gray – Private tutor, Northampton UK – July 2016
Learn more about Teaching Autistic Children to Read with Toe by Toe HERE.