Frequently Asked Questions

Get answers to the most commonly asked questions.
Home > FAQs Home

Do you have suggestions for teaching reading to a developmentally disabled adult?

Dear Let's Go Learn, My 30-year-old son is developmentally disabled. He is high functioning; but in his school years in special classes the teachers focused on social skills and not reading. What resources do I need to teach him to read?? How much can he do on his own as homework? He has expressive aphasia which causes him to have difficulty speaking, although he sure verbalizes a lot as best he can. Local libraries which have reading programs are full and cannot accept him. He uses the Internet to check out movie sites, which he enjoys. He does not recognize many words; but manages to see key words and see trailers of movie titles that he recognizes. Thanks for any help or recommendations that you can provide.

Hello. Thanks for your email. It is impossible for me to know exactly how to teach your son to read, but here are my thoughts:

1) "What resources do I need to teach him to read ??" I have been teaching reading and reading instruction for my entire career so I can say that this is not an easy task. If you are really serious and have at least two hours a day to commit to his reading instruction, you can go to a workshop designed for teachers who teach reading.
2) "How much can he do on his own as homework?" I don't want to say that this isn't possible but I never had good luck with it. I found getting adults to work on their reading independently to be even more difficult than children. Children are required to read in school every day so they have "reading practice" built into their daily lives. Let's Go Learn, Inc. has developed an online reading assessment and online reading instruction. This is the kind of thing that your son could do on his own to supplement your instruction.

I have worked with lots of adults during my career. I know how difficult it can be, but very rewarding. Your son's reading ability can get better. Learning to teach him yourself is probably the best option since he will probably need instruction over a long period of time. One man I worked with, about the age and profile of your son, worked with me every day for 12 weeks. During that time his mother sat in on most of my lessons. After the 12 weeks, she took over his lessons. She brought him back a year later for another round. It went well. He went from not reading at all to reading at about a 4th grade level. She continues to work with him to this day.

Tags: special education reading, adult reading

  1. William Merrick
    Reply 03/26/13

    I’ve successfully taught a person with developmental disabilities to learn basic reading skills. My case study is available at

Post a new comment:




Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Security Challenge:

Type in the following word: instruction