Teaching Reading to Nonverbal Students

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Helping nonverbal students learn to read can be an exciting endeavor, but it is also challenging. This lesson discusses some key tools and strategies involved in teaching nonverbal students to read.

Reading and the Nonverbal Student

As a second grade teacher in an inclusive setting, one where students with disabilities learn alongside their typically developing peers, Susan knows that it is important to meet her students where they are.

This year, she has one nonverbal student in her class. The child does not speak at all, and Susan is slowly beginning to gauge his capacity with receptive language, or understanding of other people's language.

Susan knows that many nonverbal students have autism, while others have past traumas or severe mental retardation. She is starting to do research into whether it is possible for nonverbal students to learn to read.

Susan discovers that there are some strong strategies out there for teaching nonverbal students to read, but she also realizes this is going to be complex and challenging. She starts to learn as much as she can about how to help her student.

Working on Decoding

One of Susan's first questions is how she can teach a student decoding, or sounding out the words on the page if he does not make sound out loud.

She learns that first, she has to establish an RMR, or reliable means of response with her student. This means they need to mutually agree on a nonverbal cue, like a smile, a set of winks, or knocks on the table, that the student can use to show he understands what Susan is teaching him.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create An Account