I'm asking on behalf of friends of mine who have a daughter who is diagnosed with "high functioning" autism. Let's call her Jane.

Jane went to a regular primary school but couldn't learn in this rather chaotic environment and had to repeat her first grade. She changed schools and has attended a Montessori School for 2 years now. The concept of this type of school is that students are never forced to learn, but encouraged instead. They learn in mixed classes so the fast learners can learn with the older students and the slow learners can repeat lessons until they understand them.

Jane is a good and fast learner, but until now she doesn't see any use in practicing reading. She is 9 years old and attending the third grade. If her reading skills don't improve until the end of this school year, she gets transferred to a special-needs school. We want to prevent this at all costs.

Jane knows the alphabet and is capable of reading texts if she's forced to do so ("You can only have a cookie if you read the name on the cookie box"). She reads very slowly and at the skill level of a first grader. Since her school never forces her to do anything, she doesn't get regular practice at school.

Ways we tried to encourage her that failed:

  • General explanations like "You need to read the street signs" or "You cannot order food if you cannot read the menu"

  • Any kind of threat like "You won't be able to learn because the interesting stuff is written in books" or "People will think you are stupid". (Of course, we don't tell her that constantly. It's just one thing we tried once and her reply was basically "I don't care what other people think about me, so I don't need to read.")

  • If we try to force her to read, she reacts petulant and stubborn. It generally goes like this: we are playing a board game together and tell her "To know what to do next, you need to read this sentence on the game board". She becomes petulant, walks away and prefers playing alone with her toys.

  • Age-appropriate books for reading practices. She generally finds them boring and childish and never sticks with them.

  • Read a good night story to mommy. Again, she becomes petulant and aggravated and is kept from sleep for a long time.

  • Interactive fairytales on a tablet computer. Since the tales are read out loud, there is no need for her to read the text. If the tales are not read out, she has no interest at all in it.

  • Transferring her back to a regular primary school is not an option.

My question is: How can I be encouraging Jane to practice her reading, even if she doesn't recognize any use in it?

  • 1
    Since this was quickly shifting into some sort of meta discussion, I've moved the comments to chat. That way, OP won't be getting all those notifications :) Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Tinkeringbell
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 16:45
  • 2
    I have reopened this. We don't close questions just because they can be on-topic on other SE's as well. While it's true that Parenting doesn't need to only focus on the Interpersonal Skills part of this question, the question being on-topic there doesn't warrant closure here, this question is perfectly fine and on-topic.
    – Tinkeringbell
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 6:38
  • 2
    How much does the rest of the family read where Jane can see them? Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 20:11
  • I would call their living room a library. They have literally one bookshelf full of fantasy novels and several more shelves filled with books about topics from gardening over history to religions, riddles and quizzes and so much more. They just don't seem to have much time to read though. They do have a TV but mostly to let their children watch serieses that are "in" in their schools so they won't be mobbed for not knowing them.
    – Elmy
    Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 20:31
  • Note that forcing an autistic person to repeatedly do something they don't want to do may do more damage than good. The school may have good reason to not enforce this. Commented Aug 31, 2018 at 9:07

15 Answers 15


FULL DISCLOSURE: I am a high functioning autistic

Three things come into play with autism that I see here.

  1. Rigid thinking
  2. Routine
  3. Obsessiveness

By trying to force her to read, they've run aground by #1.

You will never win a battle of wills with someone who has autism. The rigidity is a brick wall you will run against. Trying to force an autistic to do something is like trying to hold onto water by tightening your grip. You can't force, you need to negotiate.

Since she has no routine that includes reading, they've run aground by #2. Since the school never got her into a routine, she sees no purpose, and since it's now a disruption of her schedule, and not a part, she's seeing this as a painful disruption, if not an outright punishment.

Which brings us to 3, which is the key.

One thing that is VERY COMMON in autistics, is an obsessiveness with narrow interests. I got interested in atomic theory at the age of 9, learned everything I could, and had a college level of knowledge within a year.

If you find an interest that she's obsessed with, and bring her books on the subject, she will likely consume them with fervent dedication.

Find out what she's interested in, buy her books on that subject, tell her that she can learn all about it in the books, then let her talk all about it after she reads.

Play TO the autism, not against it.

Right now, the rigid thinking has kicked in. Reading has no purpose for her, so it is a waste of time. If it benefits her then it has a purpose.

  • Good answer, but i'm kind of missing the fact that during what the OP lists as attempted methods seriously breach your points 1 and 2. This needs to be addressed. Just injecting reading into daily activities won't work - it'll surprise her and make reading even more hated.
    – Gloweye
    Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 8:52
  • can you give some introductory resources for understanding autism? I know there are a lot out there but I'd like to know your favorites
    – Ooker
    Commented Aug 30, 2018 at 16:51
  • @ooker anything from OASIS The book "born on a blue day" believe it or not, "All cats have asperger's syndrome". is a picture book, but it makes it very plain and understandable. Anything by Temple Grandin templegrandin.com
    – user4548
    Commented Sep 2, 2018 at 15:59
  • @JaccovanDorp no, I am currently going through this with my own daughter. There is initial resistance with meltdowns and panic attacks, but once it is established routine, it works well. This also worked for me, another autistic. I'm sorry, but you are incorrect.
    – user4548
    Commented Sep 2, 2018 at 16:04
  • What part of my comment was incorrect ? Injecting reading everywhere (like getting a cookie) without warning is the problem I noticed. By definition, that's not "established routine" like you have with your daughter, which is why it works with your daughter.
    – Gloweye
    Commented Sep 3, 2018 at 7:36

Not to stray too far into parenting but I had a similar problem with learning reading comprehension at a young age. My primary motive for not reading much was the same too: I was uninterested in what I was being shown.

This is where the key to the answer lies. You need to find a topic that Jane is interested in. There are likely to be a few where she's very interested in. This is the perfect in to give her a book about it and then help her reading it.

I had exactly the same issue. It takes my interest to learn something. I was able to get proficient at reading because my aunt gave me several books about topics I was very interested in, and suddenly I had a very good motivation to learn it. After that kick starting period I became quite enamored with reading books as absorbing the information became quite addictive.

You say she's a good and fast learner, which is typical for her condition. It's also typical she'll be very hard to motivate. Use her areas of interest to get her invested in the activity you want her to practice. Knowledge begets the thirst for more knowledge, so if you really pique her interest, the skills associated with it will quickly develop.

  • 2
    But how does OP encourage Jane to actually start reading about topics that interest her? I get the impression that Jane is a bit more stubborn than this, since OP already pointed out that "the interesting stuff is written in books" and Jane refuses to read when playing a board game (I'm assuming Jane likes the board games here ;) ). The activity may help, but how does OP encourage Jane to start and stick with it?
    – Tinkeringbell
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 13:20
  • 18
    @Tinkeringbell From my reading of it OP or more aptly janes parents aren't playing to her actual interests, but instead are giving her mundane and to her boring things to read (good night stories et al). My answer is more of a recommendation to ditch that approach and go for interesting things instead. As to how, I guess it'll be trial and error.
    – Magisch
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 13:29

What I've done with my daughter that did not like to read is to encourage her with carrots, not sticks.

First I would sprinkle around the house small notes written "Ice cream" or "hot chocolate". When she would find them and bring them to me, I'd serve all the children what she had found. But this depended on her older sister playing along and not helping her. Luckily her older sister is gifted and understood the purpose of the cards, so that was not an issue.

Second, I would read books along with her, but change some things. When she would catch me changing things, I would encourage her. Often a tickle - or letting her tickle me - was encouragement enough to get her to read along.

Lastly, I would read the same simple books that I gave her to read on her own. I could then discuss with her what we read, and make lots of jokes. Very importantly, I would start "misunderstanding" things in the books, and have her explain to me what I misunderstood. That improved her reading comprehension considerably, not to mention her intrinsic motivation to catch daddy being wrong!


Allthough I am not a parent I am diagnosed with PDD-NOS, an autism spectrum disorder, so I think I can try and give an answer.

While this might not be the complete case I think it might have something to do with interest. You mentioned how she thinks books are boring and childish. The cause of this is that the contents of the books probably do not seem interesting enough to her. For example if something does not interest me I have to put in a lot of energy and focus to even try doing it. This is one of the actual symptoms of having a disorder in the autism spectrum.

I think the answer to your question is finding out what interests her and making her read about that. Let's say she likes animals a lot, you could try and give her a book about animals. If this does not work try giving her a book that is harder to read (above the expected level for someone her age). While this might sound counterproductive it could be that normal books are too easy and the slow reading etc. could be caused by disinterest and by reading slow she might hope you give up wanting her to read.

So while it seems she reads at a certain level it might actually be different 'in her head' so to speak and she is just trying to avoid having to read by making others 'bored' of it or by showing her boredom with it this way.

You mentioned she is a fast learner, so it is certainly possible you'll have to try and find something that interests her so she can find enjoyment in reading.

I hope this helps a bit.

  • 13
    Better yet, have books on the subject on different levels available at the same time. That lets her choose which ones to pick without external pressure.
    – user10085
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 9:04
  • Although the alternate activity (books on what interest Jane) might be a good thing, we've edited the question a little and got rid of the part asking for alternate activities/ways to get her reading (as that's not really an interpersonal skill), and narrowed this down to the skill of encouraging people. So, could you explain how OP could get Jane to read these books, and then stick with it?
    – Tinkeringbell
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 13:29

How can I be encouraging Jane to practice her reading, even if she doesn't recognize any use in it?

The best way to convince someone to practice an activity that they don't see a benefit to, is to show them the benefits.

My son (just started second grade) is much the same as your daughter. He does not show any interest in learning how to read, and gets frustrated when we push him to do so.

Our approach has become a mixture of compromises and natural consequences.

The compromises revolve around rewarding voluntary reading activities, while allowing him to opt out if he is not interested. For example, he likes having stories read to him at bed time. So now he has a choice: he can read a story to us, and we will then read a story to him; or he can skip a story at bedtime if he doesn't feel like reading. He does skip some nights, but most of the time he is willing to read in order to be read to.

The natural consequences are focused on pointing out places where an inability (or unwillingness) to read interferes with him doing what he wants to do.

Video games frequently have instructions. When he plays them, he tends to immediately click past the instructions, which leads to frustration when he doesn't know what to do. We are working to reinforce that when he clicks through an instruction, he is missing important information.

When he wants to watch TV (on-demand streaming services), we remind him that if he wants to search for something, he needs to spell the name to search for it, and if he isn't sure what he wants to watch, he can read the titles and descriptions to decide if what he wants is there.

At restaurants, he has to read the menu in order to know what to order.

It sounds like you've tried something similar to this:

General explanations like "You need to read the street signs" or "You cannot order food if you cannot read the menu"

I'd be interested to hear what happened when you tried it. My son sometimes moves on to something else, for example deciding that he is no longer hungry, but persistence and consistency has paid off for us. He no longer seems to resist the idea. Perhaps it is because he no longer is fighting against our attempts to push him into doing something he doesn't want to.

If Jane pushes back and just stops showing interest in an activity once she understands that she'll have to read to participate, I suggest holding firm, and don't make accommodations (such as reading from the menu for her). At the same time, don't turn it into a punishment. Agree to let her get a meal after you leave the restaurant (even if it isn't exactly what she wants), or let her stop playing the game (but by all means continue to play without her, if practical). The idea is that she can decide whether to read or not, but that you are not going to go out of the way to do read for her. If she wants you to read for her, then obviously reading has some value; otherwise, she'll just have to be inconvenienced unless she decides it's worth the effort.

It is worth noting that we combine this with a general approach of trying to get him more interested in things that require reading. For example, we take him to the comic book store and help him find comics on topics that he enjoys. We will then buy them for him if he agrees that he will read them himself.

  • Let us continue this discussion in chat.
    – R.M.
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 22:37
  • 2
    I deleted the comments that were moved to chat. If anything in that chat is relevant to the answer, please make sure to make an edit to reflect these things, so people don't have to read chat rooms to find relevant information.
    – Tinkeringbell
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 8:17

I'd like to suggest something completely different that may work.

My source for this is my own nephew who has high functioning autism.

Essentially he went from being one of the worst at spelling to one of the best in about the span of a year, without any increase in actual dedicated reading time and we couldn't work out why, until his mum went on Netflix at their house and the English subtitles were on - it turns out that while watching shows in English, he had still decided to leave the subtitles on, and he was passively picking up reading comprehension as he watched shows.

Might I suggest something similar (if this child enjoys watching tv) - feign an issue with your Netflix/DVD player/whatever that causes subtitles to get left on. While it may not increase their desire to read as such, it may at least help solve the problem of improving their reading speed and spelling.


she doesn't see any use in practicing reading.

As someone else already said, show her the use. Show it in an aproppriate way.

"You need to read the street signs" or "You cannot order food if you cannot read the menu"

I assume both is not a field of any interest for kids. Think about the aproppriate way.

"People will think you are stupid"

Another turn off. I would have bet a lot on the response "I don't care what other people think about me".

If we try to force her to read, she reacts petulant and stubborn.

On this one too :-)

Age-appropriate books for reading practices. She generally finds them boring and childish

So why not something she likes more? Find out what that is.

So what use could there be? Make her curious to read. Show that the whole world is made of text.

  • The TV program.
  • Something you buy, ice cream without a picture that hints to the taste.
  • The manual of something.
  • If you are out, stop at a sign to read it and comment it.
  • A book you read, generally occupy yourself reading something.
  • If she asks things you don't know and have to look them up in the internet or elsewhere. Or things you know but can be a good topic for that...
  • Stop the telling tablet.

And for all those things, don't read a lot to her. Say she can read that on her own, that is too long to read. But without too much of a hint you're going to lure her into reading. Kids aren't stupid, they will feel that.


Note: High functioning autist here. Since this is interpersonal and not parenting, I think I have valuable input how to talk to autistic people/children. People who themselves aren't or didn't know any to a high degree often have a lot of problem to understand what an autistic kid needs most of all in their life. That thing is: Structure.

Schools for autistic children

In my very rude opinion, having her on a school like that was a huge mistake. If there is one single requirement that helps autistic children get along, it's structure. Structure, structure, and more structure. A school that lacks that is hell, and she'll have to learn how to work all over again. A better school for her would have been one that insists on the exact same schedule of lesson/breaks every day, with the exact same teacher everyday, in the exact same classroom everyday, at the exact same table.

Why ? Because she won't have to process the surroundings anymore, which are ever-changing on a Montessori school. She simply won't have any time to catch up with her lessons because there's so much other things.

Solution 1: (Easiest for you, but depends on the girl)

As for how to have her learn to read - a couple answers here were useful. Finding out her interests is one - let her taste a bit, and if she likes it, tell a bit more. If she continues asking, tell her you don't know, but you'll buy a book for her about it. Then continue to do that. Do NOT coddle her with easy language books. If she doesn't know the meaning of words, give her a dictionary or let her google it. Basically, use her passion for wherever it may be as a goal and reading as the means to get there.

You'll probably have to supply new books later. It's really best for her to let her dive as deep into any chosen subject as she wishes. Especially if it turns out to be something she could make a living out off later. Attempts to broaden the subject can work, but don't press after an initial rejection. For example, if she's obsessed with physics, do offer math books, but don't insist on them.

Solution 2: (will work with every autistic child smart enough to comprehend the subject)

If you cannot find a single subject (which can happen), structure is the only solution. For example, every day after dinner(which, if life is all about this girl, should be at the exact same time everyday), take an hour to read with her. Even if she's stubborn, force that hour of attention. However, inform her at least one day before this new schedule starts, preferably a week ahead with a couple of reminders. Once in the session, do it in sight of a clock so she can see how long there is left. And once the hour is done, she gets to stop again, unless she wants to continue (she wont, at least not at first). If she's stubborn, stay determined. And be clear about it.

Make it the first thing after dinner. Don't delay starting it. I grew up catholic, and the prayer at the end of dinner was the official end. If there is a marker of the end of dinner like that, start immediately after it with her, before things like the dishes. She knows she can't do anything else before it's done, so making her wait longer(by starting later) until she can resume play is cruel.

As long as it's the same moment every day, of course it doesn't have to be after dinner. As long as it's inside a firm structure, she'll do fine with it, and most of the stubborn refusal will stop in a week after she discovers that attempting to refuse won't work.

Personal experience why this is good

I'm from a family of four boys, all of us were autistic. Luckily for us, so was our mom, so she provided the structure we needed without having to actively introduce it. At school, I unlearned how to learn - any pure knowledge subjects were far to easy, and I never had to work. This was a problem later at college - how do you learn ? The solution was simple - set aside a specific environment to work. So at college, I'd do useful things, in between classes or staying longer. Because in my home, I could never manage to actually work on something that didn't have my passion. Why ? Because it's nearly impossible to maintain structure living alone. Staying in the physical college buildings gave me the structure to work.


Injecting the reading into daily activities is the wrong thing to do. It'll surprise the girl, and make her dread reading even more. That is another reason for the structure - in exchange for an hour of dedicated activity, she should be free of reading for all the other time she spends at home.

Not surprising the child is very important for children with autism. Even when she's back on track with reading again, don't just say "we'll stop today", but instead "as good as this is going, we can stop practicing after another week". If she seems to enjoy the together time, try and find something else to do together which she would find fun, or which you believe can help her in her development. This is far from out of the question.


What isn't working

Pushing Jane towards reading isn’t working. It is likely that it sets up an oppositional dynamic with the adults around her.

To date she has defensively insisted that she doesn’t care what people think or how the board game goes. She can’t back down from that stance without feeling vulnerable, if she drops her defence the adults ‘win’ and she loses.

It may be that this isn’t the moment for either overt rewards or for appeals to logic, or indeed anything that draws attention to whether she is reading or not. It might well be the time to be sneaky and give her space to back down from that stance without remark.

Consider how you might use subtly set up circumstances where she can drift towards reading of her own volition, such that she doesn’t think anyone else is involved. It is interpersonal skills, but the trick may be to make the involvement of the adults concerned as invisible to her as possible.

First have a think about whether anything is undermining the message that reading is a good and normal thing

  • Does she see adults around her reading for pleasure? Does she hear them talking to each other about what they read?

  • Are there reading materials lying about the place?

  • Are there often other diversions and attention catchers available to her? Is the TV or radio often on, can she watch DVDs on demand, play games on a tablet etc?

In much the way that relieving insomnia requires good ‘sleep-hygiene’, getting over not-reading may require good ‘entertainment hygiene’.

Where Sleep hygiene requires limiting exposure to activities which compete with your ability to sleep, entertainment hygiene would require limiting exposure to and accessibility of competing audio/visual inputs or activities.


Aim to create a situation where, whether it is for an hour or so every evening or a couple of evenings a week; other entertainments are not activated. I don’t mean make a big production about turning off the television and announcing ‘now we shall have reading time’, just don’t turn it on.

If necessary start with a very short period and don’t be afraid to stage manage it at first if that helps to break old habits.

At a time when the TV, radio or computer would usually be switched on, something like this could happen:

Adult 1: who might already be reading some fiction

can we just leave it off for a few minutes while I finish reading this?

Adult 2: picking up their own book

No worries

After 10-15 minutes or whatever seems good:

Adult 1: putting aside book.

Thanks for that, I was just at the bit where the dinosaurs had the aliens cornered

(or whatever floats your boat but might plausibly pique Jane’s curiosity too.)

Adult 2: looking up enthusiastically

Oh, I loved that bit, wait until you get to… Oh, no I’d better not say… spoilers!

And then the TV goes on and things carry on as usual.

But don’t immediately suggest that Jane read too. Just make sure there are things around that she could read if she felt like it but maybe stuff that the adults also read.

'Age appropriate' materials

In my first answer I focused on the type of reading material which had captured my reading imagination, but that wasn’t about interpersonal skills and I’ve deleted it. But one of the things I spoke about was some of the reading material I enjoyed at the time I was getting over my own ‘Jane-like’ reading resistance.

Having eventually had my reading imagination captured by cartoon strips about a girl called Beryl the Peril who was anti-establishment, not 'childish', who made things happen if she was bored and who often got the better of her parents (she didn't much mind any punishments). I spend half my pocket money on Peanuts books, moving onto BC and more recently all of Calvin and Hobbes.

What those have in common is that they are accessible without being 'childish' or even 'for' children and though individual strips often stand alone, there is a world and often a wider story arc linking them. In Charlie brown, Linus, Calvin and Snoopy, there is a lot for a self-sufficient, imaginative or or not-one-of-the-crowd child to identify with.

So, as an adjunct to the IP skills of leading by example and creating a conducive environment and de-emphasising the necessity of reading, my suggestion would be to look for some kind of longer form comic strip. I'm not sure what's available in comic books in your country, whether there are things that aren't all super heroes, but look for something that isn't just the four-frame funnies. Look out for a full page 15-20 frame strips with room for some story development in each tale, a wider story/world arc and perhaps published weekly or fortnightly so that it comes as a drip feed, building anticipation. But here's the thing, don't tell Jane you got them for her to practice reading on, just have the adults read them themselves, quibble over whose turn it is, laugh while reading them, be seen to enjoy them!

I'm not familiar with graphic novels, but there might be good characters to be found in that section of the bookshop.


Don’t try to push Jane into the pool while you are all at the edge, let her see you all splashing about and leave some water wings handy.

  • While your sneaky approach and concept of entertainment hygiene sound very usefull and promising, I'm afraid the "positive role model" approach won't work, as autists often don't feel the urge to imitate other people.
    – Elmy
    Commented Aug 27, 2018 at 17:34
  • 1
    @YElm well of course, but that doesn't mean that they won't see someone enjoying something and be enticed to enjoy it as well.
    – user64742
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 0:58
  • @Elmy I’m sorry, I somehow missed this comment at the time. My idea was less of a positive role model in the sense of emulating someone who behaves laudably and more making it easier for Jane to work our for herself that books are a way of having fun by yourself.
    – user9837
    Commented Oct 12, 2018 at 20:18

I've heard this method suggested to parents to encourage kids to read:

Start by reading a book to her, something a bit longer and with a really engaging storyline. Read on a daily basis (or whatever) to her to really get her interested in the book and make a habit of leaving the book somewhere accessible for the kid. Start ending the reading sessions on cliffhangers. The theory is that the kid will be curious enough about what happens that they pick the book up on their own to find out.

Another option: Have sticker-charts and the like been tried? I mean... there is nothing wrong with some useful bribery. It sets up some sort of "instant" "reward" for reading.

How about teaching her to navigate with a paper-map and having her give directions while driving by reading the street names? It gives her control (over where the car is going) and also real-world consequences (oh no! we took a wrong turn!).

Something a bit out of the box: What about texting or something similar? Maybe a cheap cell phone or tablet to keep in touch with friends or parents? Or perhaps child-friendly games that have some textual interaction or key components that requires reading? I think "Zoombinis" was a game I enjoyed around that age as a kid. It had a lot of pattern-matching but also involved reading puzzle directions and the like. In this case, the game is not FOCUSED on reading, but (very) small sections of reading are the means to an end. Heck, even a game like Pokemon could be decent (especially if she likes the cartoons?). Lots of text in that, but reading is FAR from the "goal" of the game so it might not feel so "forced" to her. Even something like Mario Odyssey on the Switch has some instruction in text-format. Actually, basically all games with a story line have instruction and story in text-format. Phone games like "Cut the Rope", "Candy Crush", etc don't though.

To be honest though, I think it largely comes down to finding something to motivate the kid: A good storyline they can't resist finishing, some sort of bribe or reward, life consequences, a fun activity that involves reading, etc. The easiest and most enduring will probably be to find something they LIKE - maybe it is stories about robots or faeries or dragons, maybe biographies (in which case, try James Herriot - its mostly child appropriate and funny), maybe non-fic books like "how tos" or about how things are made. Maybe its books about one really really specific niche topic. Maybe it turns out that they LOVE story-driven RPG video games or comics/manga. Maybe they want to MAKE robots, in which case learning basic programming would be the motivation. Maybe she would be interested in learning how to use Google to find the answers to questions she has. It is a matter of FINDING that motivation - and I think the only way to do that is to talk to her and find out what they actually like (which may take a good deal of trial and error).

Also, I re-read the OP and it doesn't seem as if anyone reads TO her. That would be the number one suggestion: Read to her. Read to her daily and have her situated somewhere that she can easily see the book while reading and trace your finger under the word being read. It will draw her eye to the words and start creating stronger sound-word-meaning associations. You may find she is reading along eventually.


As a child I had a very similar scenario with learning to swim.
I just wasn't interested in learning, I had floats, I was happy paddling about with them and I wasn't worried about it.
My parents tried all sorts of ways to get me to learn.
My uncle even hurled me into the pool in a "sink or swim" scenario once.

I simply wasn't motivated to do it.

In the end, dad found the solution:
Straightforward bribery

Turns out that if you offer a kid "Any single toy in the toy-store" he'll do pretty much anything :P

He set strict requirements to achieve it, I had to swim under my own power from one end of the pool to the other and back, unsupported by any floats, not touching the sides or bottom of the pool at any time. If I did that while he watched, I got the toy.

After years of indifference and stubbornness it took me mere days to teach myself to swim properly once I was properly motivated.

You might be able to achieve something similar.
Find something your child wants that you can provide and offer it as reward for daily reading. I suggest she reads aloud to let you see her progression and ensure no foul play (much as we love our kids, they're often devious as hell)

Make it clear that it's a bonus, not something normal you've put behind a paywall.
One option might be a big trip to a theme-park, set it as a reward for say...30 days of reading aloud to you each evening, then commit to doing it.

If you're worried about what kind of lesson this is teaching your child..it's about teaching your child to be goal-oriented, to see something she wants and work towards it honestly and fairly. It also teaches trust. In my case, I learnt that my dad will honour his promises.


This is similar to other answers, but I think it's a new perspective.

It sounds like one of the problems is that reading is being presented as optional when in fact it is compulsory. e.g. she has the choice to stop playing the game rather than reading to continue with it. This is a bit dishonest and confusing/ frustrating to all parties. Jane is annoyed that the adults keep pushing her towards reading when she's made it clear she doesn't want to (and interrupting things she likes with something she doesn't like), and the adults are annoyed that she's not choosing the option they want her to choose. I remember being confused with this sort of thing as a child- why offer me a choice and then get cross at me for the choice I made?

It might be better to come clean and just say she has to do reading practice, for X amount of time each day, starting at Y date. She can choose what to read, but she can't choose not to do it at all. (And do make sure there is plenty of choice about what to read- books at her level, books on her interests, fiction and non fiction.) Don't push it outside of those times. You can balance it out by giving her something she wants, a new right to go with the new responsibility perhaps, or some extra pocket money to recognise that she's spending time doing an activity of someone else's choice, but she has to do it either way. That way everyone is on the same page about which things she can choose and which things she can't, which should make communication about the issue easier.

You can also explain to her that even if reading seems like a big chore now, it won't be that way forever. It will get easier the more she practices, and maybe she will even start to like it one day! It might be a little bit reassuring even if she's not convinced about the last bit.


I have two children with ASD and worked with children with autism, specifically to help them learn to read. The biggest obstacle I found is a lack of engagement and motivation to read a book, because the books were all of no relevance to the child. When I created a photobook specifically of the child and of their family, friends, toys, parks they visited etc, the level of engagement changed to one if excitement to read a book about themselves.


I don't know much about autism, but my sister was diagnosed with dyslexia at a young age. She had a very hard time learning to read.

Our parents were told to try and instill in her a love of books and stories by reading to her aloud and listening to books on tape. They were told to read books above her own reading comprehension level which would still hold her interest. Books included the Nancy Drew series, Little House on the Prairie, Ann of Green Gables, etc.

When she was slightly older, in middle school, school was becoming harder and reading became more of a chore again. Luckily, there was a teenager at a local bookstore who knew a lot of good YA novels and would recommend new ones to my sister every summer so she kept reading things she liked in a non-school environment. She did this all through middle and high school, and my sister continues to read for fun even as an adult, although it is still more difficult for her than it would for someone without a learning disability.

My point is, the physical act of reading can be hard, but if she's interested enough in the content of the story, she will see the value in books eventually.


Childhood is the innocence that radiates each color of different human emotions. A child more than love & care needs freedom. When they find ‘I’m been shielded up with more protective layers which involve strict routines to do, always to be in ‘learning-adaptation mode’; parents do every moment expects from them, least allowed when it comes to the explanation part from their viewpoint, etc.

Eventually, they entangle themselves with questioning habits; Okay for the schedule to do but why it’s for daily…why I should learn & learn every time…why am I be considered stringent to be taught manners and disciplines all the time?? And so on.

When they don’t find the answers to these tough questions, and again urged for the same expectations to be done as again parents are asking to do; the free bird gets tired. Hence, for the time they want themselves away with such unpleasant mode; thus letting you answered with stubbornness.

However, if not solved their curiosity for the dilemma timely, obviously will result in something which you don’t ever want for your loveliest child.

It would be always advisable at this point of time to seek the psychiatrist or a person who can provide individualized service to your child; reason being, children when goes far away from you (emotionally), then your efforts cannot do whereas a new face can do! As it becomes high time for your child who intrinsically desires to get something new, refrains from daily battle with their freedom, routines, and parent expectations.

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