November 6, 2021

Why is it so common for teachers to have one student read aloud while others follow along in the book? It’s way too much multitasking for my brain.

I can only listen if I’m not reading. I can only read if I’m not listening. And I can only track where the current reader is on the page if I’m neither reading nor listening to understand – only matching meaningless letters and sounds.

So, how did I handle it? How did conscientious little me remain alert enough to pick up at the right spot when it was my turn, while comprehending anything?

I got very fast at reading. That allowed me to spend most of my time tracking the sounds, because I could occasionally ignore the audio for a few seconds while I quickly read ahead.

When my turn came to read aloud, I would silently read each sentence during the brief pause at the end of the previous sentence. Then, when I spoke the words, I was equipped with enough context to know where the intonation should go.

I didn’t realize what I was doing. I just remember feeling confused about why the other 7-year-olds were reading in a choppy monotone, instead of emphasizing the important words like a storyteller.

It was a coping strategy. It took effort, and still does. But it happens to make me an excellent oral reader.

P.S. I write from my personal experience as an autistic. What I share is not a substitute for advice from an autistic medical professional. Also, some of my opinions have changed since I first wrote them.