Teaching Sight Words to students with disabilities

Teaching children with disabilities takes a very special type of person. A person who can think "outside the box", think of different ways to teach things. They need to have the patience to teach the same concept over and over again and to appreciate even the smallest steps of success in learning.

In my 37 years of teaching, I have taught many children with different types of disabilities some of which include Specific Learning Disabilities, Autism, Downs Syndrome, and Intellectual Disabilities just to name a few.
Its important to remember that everyone has strengths and weaknesses and that not everyone is going to learn to read the same way. It's important when teaching children how to read that we remember what their strengths and weaknesses are in their learning abilities.
Just as when a delicious meal is made, there isn't just one way to make it delicious. The same goes for reading. There isn't just one way to teach every child and for all those children to be successful.
So I hope you'll join me as we start a short journey into teaching reading.

1. WHOLE WORD Reading

This method presents the entire word to the child. This method presents the word in one unit. It doesn't matter whether the word is a small word such as "it", or a longer word such as beautiful.  It presents the word in its whole form; no segmentation, no phonetic sounds, no phonetic blending. In fact, it does not require the student to use phonics at all. Many people have difficulty with this approach as they feel it  doesn't provide the student with a method with which to learn new words on their own.
 This method requires memorization of the word. Often lessons are based around a repeated spiraling approach. Words are presented, read, practiced, reinforced, and tested then reintroduced a little later as reteaching and review. This is great for students with good memories, but for some students with disabilities, long term and often short-term memory learning is very difficult. However, I have seen this method work time and time again.
It important for student to  have their own core lists of essential words that students have learned. Sometimes the words correlate with the reading program being used. When in doubt - fall back onto a well used standard set of words  such as your basal reading series should have a list of frequently used words in the series. One of the most important things you can do would be to teach the students the everyday common words that are seen in print such as the DOLCH words or FRY word lists. Both of these lists provide words that can be found in everyday reading pairing pictures and words

Some programs I have used successfully that utilized this method are
Edmark Reading Program and PCI Reading Program Levels 1 and 2.
Both are awesome programs and I have witness great jumps in reading because of them.
Below is a brand new product I have in my store to practice the words for the PCI reading series. This activity is in game format of Roll, Read, Color and contains all the words for Level 1

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