Special Reads For Special Needs: Our Reading Workshops And All That We Learned

If you’ve been brought up with love for reading, you’d know how much it hurts when your child struggles with a book. When it is hard for them to understand the dancing letters and decoding rules. And, when educators, teachers and other professionals have low expectations, no real solutions and are okay with their mediocre performances. This all becomes inevitable if the child has special needs because most of what he or she is not able to learn is conveniently blamed on the disability.

A lot of parents don’t take it lying down and do whatever they can, to prove how there are flaws in the system and how by changing teaching techniques and methodologies every child can be taught to read, write and perform at a level least expected of them, but a large group do not question the broken system and the result is children turning into adults without any substantial skills in reading and comprehending. As mentioned in one of my previous posts, I truly believe in the power of reading and how it can transcend and  give our children the ability to imagine, talk, understand, infer, comprehend and much more. The words on computer screen equips them with modern tools to connect with the world and be a contributing member of dsociety. “Being able to read is not just rewarding; it’s fulfilling, and thus this skill needs to be taught like a life skill.

Many institutes and individuals have done pioneering work in this field and have paved a way for better reading abilities especially for children with special needs i.e Glenn Doman’s IAHP, NACD, Down syndrome education international and many more, but the problem is reachability. Not everyone can afford to invest money, and months and years of time in these programs and make lifestyle changes to create a conducive environment for the child to flourish.

Many keep struggling to strike a balance between school demands and child’s capabilities and even more struggle to keep their children motivated for reading the books that are not designed keeping in mind their struggles and are visually  cluttered and discouraging. To make matters worse we are struggling to teach a language like english, which is a hodgepodge of words. For the young reader, it appears confusing and inconsistent. The vocabulary is vast, the pronunciation is often irregular, and the exceptions are as numerous as the rules.

Being an educator and a parent, I understand the frustrations of both teachers and parents, and wanted something which would give both  a readymade recipe. Where they wouldn’t have to do hours of research or invest lakhs of rupees. My objective was to educate them, equip them and get them started and I am happy I could.  Natalie’s ‘Special Reads Program’ draws from over 20 years of experience and evidence. Her own struggles and triumphs over her son’s reading journey helped her make the program unlike others in the market. And my customisation of her program for Indian audiences and Indian Education system and schools helped parents learn simple strategies to get started and then design and customise based on their child’s individual needs.

Today I’d like to share the extraordinary response that we received at our three workshops which we did in a week’s time. Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore; three distinct cities but so much alike in their eagerness for new learning. Thanks everyone who attended the workshop with energy and enthusiasm. Thanks for showing the faith in our methods, techniques and strategies. Here are some great moments from the workshop.

What we learned:   The research, the existing ways, the ideal ways, some brain gym exercises, some astonishing abilities of the brain in reference to reading, Whys and Hows of reading, visual pathways, social stories for expected behaviours, the fast flash, creating personal books, modifying trade books, free resources, modification for inclusion, striking a balance between phonics and sight words and above all the love for teaching reading.





























In the end I’d like to thank everyone who came and became a part of our journey of belief in our children and  their abilities.




  1. On Sunday, I read your instructions and started Fast Flashing the words for the book Spaghetti!