Back to School: Online Technology from StudyDog Helps Special Needs Children Learn to Read

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Online reading program allows special needs children to learn at their own pace, while catering to their unique learning needs.


Parents and teachers of children with special needs are using advancements in digital learning like StudyDog to help build reading skills.

When children learn to read it opens them up to new opportunities in learning and in life. But for special needs students, learning to read is often a difficult process. As kids go back to school, they might struggle with basic reading concepts, but with continued effort and an individualized approach to learning, special needs students can learn to read. Parents and teachers of children with special needs are using advancements in digital learning like StudyDog to help build reading skills.

“Technology is a wonderful tool for helping special needs children learn to read,” said Deme Clainos, CEO of StudyDog, an online reading program for elementary school students. “StudyDog allows children to learn at their own pace, while adjusting to unique learning needs and providing additional support in areas they are struggling with.”

Starting with alphabetic awareness, StudyDog guides each child through the process of learning to read up to a level of reading comprehension. The online software incorporates interactive characters and games that make children want to come back for more. Click here to visit the website to learn more about how the program works.

"My students can become independent learners thanks to StudyDog. With StudyDog, real teaching and learning occurs. Communication from the characters is in a language that kids understand and react to in a very positive way," said Dave Hall, a special education teacher at Heights Elementary School. “StudyDog is a valuable tool for me.”

Along with using technology, StudyDog offered these strategies for helping children with special needs learn to read:

  •     Use pictures to help children with special needs learn to read. Kids with Down syndrome, autism, Asperger syndrome and other special needs are often visual learners who tend to associate words with a picture as they begin to understand how the letters and sounds work together.
  •     Figure out what the child is most passionate about and use reading materials that focus on their interests. Consider creating personalized books that use simple words, personal photos and details that relate to them. For example, a book about family members might say, “I love my mom. I love my dad. I love my sister.”
  •     Keep plenty of books in the house. Even if a child is unable to read, it’s important to at least provide the opportunity to interact and become comfortable with books as they learn.
  •     Create flash cards in sets of five and build from there. Read the words out loud to the child until they are able to read them on their own. In short, five-minute increments go through the cards, repeating each card three or four times.

“It may take additional time and patience to help a child with special needs learn to read, but without it they will struggle to learn in other areas,” Clainos said. “Basic reading and comprehension skills will help open them up to many more opportunities on a personal and academic level.”

About StudyDog

StudyDog is a proven leader in helping children quickly learn to read and has helped more than 6 million kids master basics like phonics. The company creates interactive reading programs specially designed for elementary students. What sets StudyDog apart from other learning programs is how StudyDog engages future readers as young as 3 years old. Similar reading software is able to engage older students who already know how to read. But StudyDog uses games and other features to connect with younger children who haven’t learned to read yet. StudyDog’s Adventures in Reading series is used in more than 3,000 schools nationwide. The lessons were designed to meet state early learning standards and the guidelines of the National Reading Panel. StudyDog programs have been used in schools for the past six years. For more information, visit or call 1-866-643-4449.

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Pat Parkinson
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