Readers in Residence is a really great reading curriculum that uses easy to find books you may already own. It starts off with Sarah, Plain and Tall and historical fiction novels. Your child will complete short lesson activities in each module that build upon one another to fully cover a given topic. As mentioned above, the book is very large. You may wish to unbind it and rebind into sections to make it a little easier to transport or write in. My son doesn't have a problem with writing in it the way it is. Some children with Autism may not like the size of the book since some with autism feel as if they have to complete the entire book in one sitting. So if your child is like that, you may wish to unbind, and rebind in your own way.
How we used this:
I really liked the progression of the lessons as they just made sense. It started with the cover and moved inward. Mr. B had a difficult time using clues from the cover to draw conclusions as to what he thought the book would be about, so this was a great lesson for him. His favorite activity thus far has been making his own book cover. He really enjoyed drawing his own picture, and writing his own biography for the back.
Most often, we read the selections from each module together, and we would discuss all of the critical thinking questions so that I could make sure Mr. B was fully grasping everything. He really enjoyed watching me assign numbers to his grading rubric, and taking part in that as well.
When we moved on to Module 2, he got hung up on main and minor characters. It wasn't that he couldn't understand the concept, but because he wanted to apply that lesson to EVERYTHING! He would make lists of his favorite books and list all of the characters in each book for a few days. We had to spend a bit more time on Module 2.4 Making Inferences because this is a very hard concept for the autistic brain to "get." We spent about a week working on inferences before I felt comfortable moving ahead. That's the great part about this program, you can stop where you are in the book to work more on a topic that may give your child a little trouble.
I need to point out that we used an eBook we borrowed from the library for Sarah, Plain and Tall. If you have the ability to have the physical book, that is a lot better because you have to reference the back cover for certain activities, and we couldn't get the back cover to show on the iPad, so we had to use a different book instead.
At the end of each book, your child can choose a book in the same genre, and there is a unit for each OYO (On Your Own) book. There are similar questions asked, so your child must apply what they learned from the required book to the book of their choice. He hasn't yet chosen his OYO books for Historical Fiction or Animal Fantasy, but he did jump ahead and choose a Disaster Strikes book for Realistic Fiction.
We haven't yet finished with Sarah, Plain and Tall, but the course also includes "Animal Fantasy" with Charlotte's Web, and "Realistic Fiction" with Because of Winn Dixie. Debra Ball has hit another home run with Readers in Residence. The module lessons are short enough that Mr. B doesn't lose interested, but the contain everything he needs to learn at this stage. Plot, setting, parts of a book, genres, characterization, inferences, and more are fully covered in this excellent reading curriculum. The layout and progression is easy to follow and logical. The pages are colorful, but not distracting. The activities are a mix of "get up and move" style where your child has to hunt around the house for certain types of books, to writing activities where they have to answer specific questions. There are even art and hands on style activities, such as creating your own book cover or drawing in the 3rd module. Overall, we really like this reading program and plan to finish using it!
1.) Customization: Is it easily adaptable? Can we customize it to fit “us?” Can we modify or set our own schedule? Can we take breaks, jump ahead, or flat out skip?
This is a PHYSICAL product. You can tailor it to fit your schedule as you see fit. I would Not skip around because the modules tend to build on the previously covered content.
3.) Attention span: Is it boring? Is it engaging? Is it varied enough for ADHD? Does it last too long?
The lessons are relatively short and quick. Mr. B has not had an issue at all with the duration, and has even asked to work ahead a little. The size of the book make be daunting for some with autism, but that could easily be engineered in such a manner as to reduce that type of anxiety.
You could incorporate what you are reading in Readers in Residence into a unit study, etc. Mr. B is really into all things American Revolution, so his historical fiction choice leans that way.