Struggle to learn alphabet


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  • flowersbymo

    My son is 8yrs old and still struggles to learn alphabet. He skips some letters like d, n, ect. He has autism, working memory issues. Is it futile to try sight words?

    Sonya Shafer

    Each child is different, of course, but sight words are what helped my ASD daughter start to read. She has a very visual memory. Sounding out letters meant nothing to her. She started reading words when she was 11. Here’s what we did.

    I wrote 3 words on index cards: locations in the room where we did her schoolwork. I tried to pick three words that looked very different from each other: window, chair, bed. Then we played a little game. She stepped outside the door for a minute while I hid a little toy in one of those three places. When she came back in, I showed her the word card for where the toy was hidden. She went to retrieve it with a smile. If she started for the wrong place, I would say something like, “This word is chair,” to reinforce the correct word.

    For some reason that got her up and running with reading. We just kept building on more words by sight and soon she was reading words that I had never taught her. We still reinforce word building once or twice a week, and she’s starting to understand it more now (she just turned 21); but she still relies mainly on her visual “image filing system” more than phonics.

    I don’t know if that technique might help with your son, but don’t give up. I didn’t know if Hannah would ever learn to read. Now she’s reading at a third grade level!


    Have you looked up signs of dyslexia? has a good list.  He will need a reading program specifically for dyslexia if he’s dyslexic.  Dyslexics have a poor visual memory so sight word based reading doesn’t work well for them.


    I would encourage you to look into the Neurodevelopmental Approach. It answers a lot of questions for us and gives us a place to put our energy. and Little Giant Steps.

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