The Shafer Center’s Proprietary Reading Program Yields Results for Children with Autism

Aiming to give children on the autism spectrum an opportunity to improve their reading/comprehension skills, The Shafer Center for Early Intervention created, and developed its Connect XYZ reading skills program. The unique approach of The Shafer Center’s Connect XYZ program combines the skills of special educators with behavior therapists to implement research-based personalized interventions to improve reading performance.

“Connect XYZ targets specific skills of reading and comprehension such as vocabulary, word recognition, and reading fluency, with the goal of closing the gap between performance and potential with each child, ” says Stephanie Durfee, Director of Education at The Shafer Center for Early Intervention. “We work with the children 1-on-1 to develop the five components of reading: phonics, phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. ConnectXYZ teaches children with autism not only reading skills, but also the complexities of comprehension so they are able to make meaningful connections to information which increases learning.”

The first step of the Connect XYZ program is to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of each child’s abilities with an emphasis on their reading skills. Using a series of formal and informal assessments The Shafer Center staff develops a learning profile for each student, then, based on each child’s profile, creates a personalized instructional program. The program is then implemented with interventions designed to focus on the underlying causes of difficulty in each area of reading. The qualified teachers and staff of The Shafer Center conduct all Connect XYZ program testing, evaluation and instruction.

“For a child on the autism spectrum, reading comprehension and higher-level critical thinking can be a challenge,” says The Shafer Center’s Founder and President, Helen Shafer. “Everything we do at The Shafer Center is designed to give each child an opportunity. The critical skills that children develop in the Connect XYZ program may open doors to opportunities not only in the classroom, but in all aspects of life.”

The Centers for Disease Control estimates 1 in every 88 American children are on the autism spectrum.  Studies also show autism to be more common among boys (1 in 54) than girls (1 in 252) in the United States.

The Shafer Center offers its ConnectXYZ program at its facility or in the student’s home. In addition, The Shafer Center hosts Camp Connect during summer months at The Park School in Baltimore, MD. For more information about the ConnectXYZ reading program for children on the autism spectrum, visit the school’s website at www.ShaferCenter.com/our-programs/connect-xyz/.

The Shafer Center for Early Intervention is located in Reisterstown, Maryland. Children at The Center range in age from two to eight years old. The Shafer Center also provides off-site intervention services for children well into their adolescent years. The Maryland Department of Education has accredited The Shafer Center for Early Intervention as a non-public school. 

NOTE: ConnectXYZ is the trademarked name of the reading improvement program developed by The Shafer Center for Early Intervention.


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