For 20 years, Special Reads for Special Needs has been serving schools and families. Our unique design targets the learning strengths and avoids the learning weaknesses of children, teens, and adults with Down syndrome, autism, and more.

What drives us

Our philosophy, detailed in the book “Whole Child Reading,” is simple: We go in through the heart and teach to the brain. Everything we design appeals twice: first to the learner, and then to the brain. We believe that our materials and methods must work on two levels: for learner engagement and for memory retention and ease of learning.

Who can use this program?

This program is designed for use by parents, educators, homeschoolers, and school systems. It has been successfully implemented across the United States and around the world (23 countries at last count*).

Families and educators love this program simply because it works! Special Reads Bundles include full instructions for teaching, and are ideal for both parents and educators.

What about support?

Customer support is provided by founder and program designer Natalie Hale and has a 24-hour turnaround record.

Do you take school orders? Do you ship everywhere?

School purchase orders are welcomed, and we ship around the globe.


*(For those who really want to know what those 23 countries are, here you go!…Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada (4 territories), China, Columbia, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Malta, New Zealand, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Shetland Islands, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, and…the USA.)



Natalie Hale - Special ReadsNatalie Hale is an award-winning author, an innovative educator, parent of an adult son with Down syndrome (Jonathan is 34), and for 28 years, a national and international speaker on the topic of teaching reading to learners with Down syndrome and other developmental delays.

The backstory

30 years ago, Natalie walked into a new library with her 4-year old son Jonathan. “Can he read?” asked the librarian. “No,” answered Natalie. Said the librarian, “He could read today if you knew how to teach him. Spend some time with me and I’ll help you. If he enters first grade reading, the school’s expectations of him will skyrocket.” Trained at Glenn Doman’s Institute for the Achievement of Human Potential, and himself the father of a teen with global delays, the librarian did indeed know his stuff.

So Natalie did, the librarian did, Jonathan could, and expectations did skyrocket.

By age 8, Jonathan was an independent reader, able to decode, with a library of his own, numbering hundreds of children’s books. The only problem was that, to achieve this, Natalie had to create all of Jonathan’s reading books herself. Every.Single.One.

necessity is the mother of…

Having walked that labor-intensive walk, and knowing firsthand how difficult it is for parents to find materials designed to address the learning strengths and weaknesses of individuals with Down syndrome and other developmental delays, Natalie eventually founded Special Reads for Special Needs.

Basing her system on a global awareness of current best practices, and leaning heavily on the foundation of right hemisphere learning (Doman/Shichida/Heguru methods), Natalie developed a program which includes progressive mastering of high-frequency word lists, coupled with engaging and humorous picture books.

From the beginning, her focus has always been to engage the learner first; to “Go in through the heart and teach to the brain.” (See her book Whole Child Reading.) Humor, engaging topics, and a design for optimum brain retention has and always will shape Special Reads.

Natalie currently lives and teaches in Los Angeles. For 28 years she has given reading workshops around the country as well as in India, Bulgaria, and Canada. She continues to travel and teach parents and educators across the country and across borders.


Whole Child Reading: A Quick-Start Guide to Teaching Students with Down Syndrome and Other Developmental Delays (Woodbine House Publishing)


In addition to writing and illustrating all of the reading books you’ll find on our site, Natalie’s two award-winning books were published by Woodbine House:



You can get personal help from Natalie by arranging for a personal consult. This is ideal for developing strategies specifically designed for your child or student’s level and interests. The video consults are typically one hour and require only an internet connection and a computer with camera and microphone capabilities.