When Connor first arrived at the Academy in September, his alphabet puzzle arrived with him. Having the familiar letters nearby and repeating them frequently was a way for Connor, who has autism, to feel comfortable in a new situation.
“The alphabet has been Connor’s favorite thing since he and his twin brother were toddlers,” said his mother Geri. Their favorite show was “WordWorld,” where all the characters and objects are made of the letters that spell what they are, such as “duck” and “house.”
“He loves the alphabet because he knows all words are created from it,” Geri said. “We have different alphabet artwork all over the house. There is not a bare wall!”
Connor was familiar with upper and lowercase letters, consonants and vowels, and certain phonics rules, such as the silent “e” at the end of a word that triggers a long vowel sound. One afternoon Connor was looking with interest at the classroom wall and said to Mrs. LaPorta, “ABC wall?” This gave her an idea. She papered a portion of the wall and over the next week Connor created an alphabet wall which includes both capital and lowercase letters. Words that begin with each letter are part of the display.
The alphabet wall has helped Connor learn new skills by sounding out words he doesn’t know. This has helped him in social studies and science.
“His comprehension has really improved,” said Mrs. LaPorta. “We’ve taken what Connor loves and turned it into learning. Now he comes in with a smile—and he leaves with a smile.”