A Land We Can Share:Teaching Literacy to Students with Autism / Edition 1

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Teachers are going to love this book! Passionate and practical, "A Land We Can Share" moves beyond functional literacy skills and helps K-12 educators bring high-quality, meaningful literacy instruction to students with autism. Authored by nationally known scholars in autism and literacy, this groundbreaking guide shows teachers how to implement research-based practices in reading and writing instruction, including those consistent with the recommendations of Reading First, plan effective lessons that build on students' strengths, interests, and individual needs, design a classroom environment that promotes literacy learning for all students while addressing the individual needs of learners with autism, assess students who do not or cannot show their literacy learning in traditional ways, include students with autism in a wide range of classroom literacy activities

Enhanced with insights from people with autism and teaching tips from the authors' own extensive classroom experiences, this essential primer helps educators see literacy as a "land" everyone can share-and reveals how every learner can achieve a more fulfilling, rich, and inclusive academic life.

About the Author:
Paula Kluth, Ph.D., is a consultant, teacher, author, and advocate in Oak Park, Illinois

About the Author:
Kelly Chandler-Olcott, Ed.D., is an associate professor in Syracuse University's Reading and Language Arts Center in Syracuse, New York

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Editorial Reviews

Kelly Whalon

"Informative and engaging . . . provide[s] educators with inspiring, practical, strengths–based instructional recommendations to build literacy skills."
Professor of Education, Lynch School of Education, Boston College - Curt Dudley-Marling
"An accessible, well-researched text that respects the competence of students with autism and the teachers who work with them."
Professor of Special Education, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA - Chris Kliewer
"Not only a treatise describing literate possibility for all students, but also a powerful meditation on rethinking the very nature of autism . . . will dramatically impact classroom instructional practices and the underlying educational theory."
Clinical Director, Koegel Autism Center, University of California, Santa Barbara - Lynn Koegel
"Literacy is such an important, and often neglected, area for children with autism. This book is filled with great ideas and suggestions for making literacy a reality for children with autism."
author of Pretending to be Normal: Living with Asperger's Syndrome & Asperger Syndrome in the Family: Redefining - Liane Holliday Willey
"Finally! An entire book on autism and literacy. [This] is one of the most important books in autism education I have ever had the pleasure of reading."
University of Louisville - Monica E. Delano
"A dynamic text filled with practical examples that will motivate and inspire readers to view all individuals as capable, successful literacy learners."
Vilas Research Professor and Sir Frederick Bartlett Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison - Morton Ann Gernsbacher
"Literacy is a right of every individual in our society. Through creativity, accommodation, respect, and unconventionality, Kluth and Chandler-Olcott demonstrate how to enable that right."
author and consultant on matters pertaining to the autism spectrum; Board of Directors for the Autism Society of America - Stephen M. Shore
Jam–packed with easy to implement and practical solutions for addressing some of the most challenging situations facing those teaching literacy to students on the autism spectrum at all levels.
Professor of Language and Literacy Education, San Diego State University and Co-Director, Center for Advancement of Read - Douglas Fisher
Delivers on a promise - ensuring that students with autism become literate citizens who use their knowledge of language to participate in real lives.
Professor and Chair, Diversity in Learning & Development Department, National-Louis University, Chicago - Patrick Schwarz
Demolishes the great wall of exclusion that has often kept learners with autism segregated from literacy, reading, and language arts activities, the final frontier of inclusion. It is a must!
Professor, School of Leadership and Education Sciences, and Director, USD Autism Institute, University of San Diego - Anne Donnellan
"You're going to love this book! It offers much needed practical insights into reading for individuals with significant developmental differences."
Adjunct Professor, Center for the Study of Human Development, Brown University - Barry Prizant
"A book we all must share for promoting literacy development of students with ASD. Respectful, insightful, engaging and focused on strengths rather than weaknesses."
Autism Asperger's Digest
"A book that will change the face of inclusion...The authors give us an insider's view into what successful inclusion looks like, brilliantly showing us that it is a reachable goal."
Midwest Book Review - A. Cox James
"Superbly co-written, organized and presented, "A Land We Can Share" is thoroughly user-friendly and should be considered essential reading for all teachers at the primary and secondary levels having to work with autistic students within a classroom environment."
Education Review
"Readers will be inspired and instructed by this book….It should prove to be an important resource for students and teachers looking for strategies to use with their own students"
"May indeed revolutionize the way educators teach literacy to autistic students, regardless of the severity of autism and apparent capability of each individual."
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
"A comprehensive overview…Contextualiz[es] our current knowledge in the broader framework of teaching literacy to all-both typically developing and those with special needs-children in the US."
Positively Autism
"A much needed and essential guide for any teacher of students on the spectrum."
The Reading Teacher
see book folder
From the Publisher

"A book that will change the face of inclusion...The authors give us an insider's view into what successful inclusion looks like, brilliantly showing us that it is a reachable goal."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781557668554
  • Publisher: Paul H. Brookes Company
  • Publication date: 12/1/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 220
  • Sales rank: 478,911
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Kelly Chandler-Olcott, Ed.D., is an associate professor in Syracuse University’s Reading and Language Arts Center, where she directs the English Education program. Aformer secondary English and social studies teacher, she now teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in content literacy, English methods, literacy and technology, and writing for professional publication. She was awarded a Meredith Recognition Award for excellence in university teaching in 2000.

Dr. Chandler-Olcott’s research interests include adolescents’ technologymediated literacy practices, classroom-based inquiry by teachers, content literacy, and inclusive approaches to literacy instruction. With funding from the National Science Foundation, she and several colleagues recently completed data collection for a multiyear study of the literacy demands that reform-based mathematics curricula present for students in urban secondary classrooms. Her newest research project is a literacy intervention situated in an inclusive humanities class in an urban middle school.

Dr. Chandler-Olcott’s work has been published by such journals as English Education, Journal of Teacher Education, Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, and Reading Research Quarterly. She has also co-authored four books, the most recent being Spelling Inquiry: How One Elementary School Caught the Mnenomic Plague (Stenhouse, 1999), with the Mapleton Teacher-Research Group; and Tutoring Adolescent Literacy Learners: A Guide for Volunteers (Guilford, 2005), with Kathleen Hinchman.

Paula Kluth, Ph.D., is one of today's most popular and respected experts on autism and inclusive education. Through her work as an independent consultant and the high-energy presentations she gives to professionals across the country, Dr. Kluth helps educators and families create responsive, engaging schooling experiences for students with disabilities and their peers, too. An internationally respected scholar and author, Dr. Kluth has written or cowritten several books for Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co., including "You're Going to Love This Kid!": Teaching Students with Autism in the Inclusive Classroom, Second Edition (2010); Pedro's Whale (2010); From Tutor Scripts to Talking Sticks: 100 Ways to Differentiate Instruction in K–12 Classrooms (2010); "A Is for All Aboard!" (2010); "A Land We Can Share": Teaching Literacy to Students with Autism (2008); and "Just Give Him the Whale!": 20 Ways to Use Fascinations, Areas of Expertise, and Strengths to Support Students with Autism (2008).

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Read an Excerpt

Excerpted from A Land We Can Share
By Paula Pluth, Ph.D. & Kelly Chandler-Olcott, Ed.D.
©2008. Brookes Publishing. All Rights Reserved.


Although no two students with autism will look, behave, communicate, or learn in exactly the same way, students with this label do share some general characteristics. We believe that knowledge of these common characteristics—and more specifically, knowledge of how each might play out in the context of literacy learning—can be extremely useful for educators seeking to design responsive literacy instruction for individuals with autism. Consequently, we share some of the most significant characteristics, including movement, sensory, communication, social, and learning differences, in this section. After providing a brief definition of each difference, we discuss how they are experienced by people with autism and how each might affect literacy.

Movement Differences

Movement differences describe symptoms involving both excessive and atypical movement and the lack of typical movement. Individuals with movement differences may walk with an uneven gait; engage in repetitive movements such as rocking, hand flapping, or pacing; produce speech that is unintentional; stutter; or struggle to make the transition from room to room or situation to situation. Individuals may experience difficulties in starting, executing, continuing, stopping, combining, or switching movements, thoughts, or postures, and disturbances may range from very simple movements (e.g., raising a hand, pushing a button) to those affecting overall levels of activity and behavior (e.g., completing a task).

Understanding Movement Differences

For some students with autism, even the simplest tasks can be problematic. For instance, Jamie Burke, a young man with autism, has commented on his frustration with not being able to tie his shoes as a young child. This frustration was exacerbated by the fact that his teachers felt the task was not only important but also a measure of his intellect:

"So many things were hard for me to learn. I now think it was so foolish to ask me to learn to tie my shoes. My brain moved into hiding the reason for not being able to do it, but yet my school believed it important mostly as a way to tell you that you are not just greatly smart." (2005, p. 251)

Although all of us may experience minor or subtle movement differences from time to time (e.g., jiggling our feet when anxious, being unable to complete a motor task when we are very stressed out), many people with autism experience significant movement problems on a regular basis. Consider, for example, this description from Tyler Fihe, a young man with autism

"I never really know when sounds are coming out of my mouth or when my arms need to move or when my legs need to run and jump. . . . My eyes are unable to move up and down and left to right at will without me moving my head in the directions I'm facing." (2000, p. 1)

Fihe's description of movement problems helps us better understand why students engage in behaviors associated with autism such as gaze avoidance. Taking his perspective, one can understand that lack of eye contact is not necessarily about social avoidance and that, in fact, for many with autism it is a necessary strategy that helps them interact with others. Fihe also challenges the notion that all behavior is communication or that all movements are intentional. As he illustrates, to some individuals, movement problems are just problems with movement and nothing more.

According to Donnellan and Leary (1995), atypical movements often mask the competence of individuals with autism who exhibit them, with some observers attributing the movement difficulties to other disabilities or to low cognition. In the classroom, a teacher who is unaware of movement proble

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