Why autism affects reading and how to help


Reviews of the book Drawing a Blank


“I get asked by parents all the time about their child’s problems with reading comprehension. This book provides lots of practical, easy-to-teach methods for improving vocabulary and comprehension. Some of the teaching tools include teaching synonyms, looking up pictures on the Internet to teach nouns, and using lists of words with different shades of emotional meaning such as naughty, bad, and evil. I highly recommend this book for use with all individuals who have problems with reading comprehension.”

Temple Grandin, Ph.D., author of Thinking in Pictures and Developing Talents: Careers for Individuals with Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism

“Combining evidence about the reading comprehension process and teaching this vital skill, along with her extensive personal and professional knowledge of autism, Emily Iland has made a landmark contribution to teaching students with autism and good decoding skills.  For too long, professionals and parents have been tricked by the strengths of these bright students and haven’t had the insight or the skills to help them maximize their potential. Now, guided by this volume, practice and research can go forward.  Changed by her child with autism, Iland has given us valuable guidance and direction.

Robert Naseef, Ph.D., psychologist, author of Special Children, Challenged Parents and co-editor of the DVD Voices from the Spectrum

“This is a book we have been waiting for! Until now, little information has been available about teaching reading to students with autism spectrum disorders. In Drawing a Blank, Emily Iland has not only provided dozens of useful ideas for the classroom and home but also a concise review of the literature and a compelling story of her own quest to secure appropriate supports for her son. Every reading teacher in K-12 schools needs two copies – one to keep and one to pass on to a colleague.”

Paula Kluth, Ph.D., author of You’re Going to Love This Kid: Teaching Students with Autism in the Inclusive Classroom

Drawing a Blank offers practitioners and families practical strategies for supporting reading comprehension for learners with ASD. The text format is easy to read and well structured to support quick access to specific strategies and ideas. Most important, Emily Iland recognizes the limited research on reading comprehension and ASD while offering suggestions for making sound, individualized instructional decisions. This text will be a wonderful resource for parents, teachers, SLPs, and many others!” 

Christina Carnahan, Ed.D., associate professor of special education, the University of Cincinnati, and co-editor of Quality Literacy Instruction for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders

“From her personal ‘laboratory’ at home with her son, Tom, and her qualifications as an educator and educational therapist, Emily Iland has made a substantive contribution to the limited body of resources for remediation of reading comprehension problems for individuals with ASD. This book is indeed a gift of hands-on specifics–not just a “What Do You Do on Monday?” scheme, but a guideline of techniques for every day in the remediation of youngsters struggling to comprehend the readings that will open the door to meanings in their lives meanings – beyond the schoolroom.”  

Dorothy Ungerleider, MA, BCET, founding president, Association of Educational Therapists

“As parent to an adult on the spectrum who continues to struggle with reading comprehension, I only wish this book had been available to share with educators during my son’s elementary school years.  Emily Iland provides a broad understanding of the basic building blocks that contribute to the development of competency in reading.  It is a wonderful balance between best practices research and concrete strategies that can be immediately applied.  Drawing A Blank is long overdue as a resource for parents and professionals alike.”

Lisa A. Lieberman, MSW, LCSW, parent of a young adult with ASD, counselor, national speaker; author of A Stranger Among Us: Hiring In-Home Support for a Child with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Other Neurological Differences 


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