Like you, I am an educator. Perhaps unlike you, I am the parent of an adult with Down syndrome (Jonathan, 35, with DS, ADHD, and ODD [Oppositional Defiant Disorder]).

Like you, I was once looking for a successful Down syndrome reading program, one that would work well for my son’s early reading development. I knew that literacy skills for my son with Down syndrome would be critical in his life. As it turned out, his reading skills transformed his life.

The reading materials you find on this site are the result of experience with both roles, parent and educator: discerning what works and what doesn’t for teaching children with Down syndrome to read. That led eventually to developing materials that can achieve success with both speed and engagement.

My love for reading ignited into a passion when I taught my son to read as a five-year-old, basing my approach largely on the right brain hemisphere work of Glenn Doman/Heguru/Schichida, as well as other resources, such as the gold standard research available to us through Down Syndrome Education International in the UK.

I was lucky; Jonathan was a reading sponge, absorbing quickly and retaining easily. Seeing this five-year-old sitting and reading his homemade reading books aloud (with no pictures to cue off) to friends, teachers, strangers—literally anyone who would listen to him—totally defined my purpose. I wanted every child with Down syndrome to have the same joy and ease in reading that he did.

Many years later, in founding Special Reads for Special Needs, I developed a successful Down syndrome reading program specifically designed to both engage an easily distracted student as well as accommodate the learning strengths and weaknesses of learners with Down syndrome, autism, and other developmental delays.

“Parents Are Thrilled”

“I purchased your Emergent Reader Bundle, and my students made huge progress quickly…Since using your materials, they suddenly started blending and decoding…The parents are thrilled! Some of them cried when they first heard their child read. Thank you!” -C.M., Texas

“An Incredible, Incredible Program”

“My kids (K through 2nd) are learning so much faster now. I had kids I had almost given up on for learning sight words. It just wasn’t sinking in, after a year and a half of trying to teach them any sight words. After attending your workshop, I made the flash cards large, in red, flashed them quickly like you showed us, and used your program. In a month and a half, every one of the kids learned 15 sight words. It’s amazing. This is an incredible, incredible program!” -L.L., Oklahoma

Special Notice for Schools and Educators:

Any school or educator ordering our 2-in-1 Bundle has the option of choosing the second price button, which includes an hour of staff training with Ms. Hale. There is no time limit on arranging the training, and no limit on the number of staff attending.


So how do we successfully teach reading to children and adolescents with Down syndrome or other delays?

I believe there are two keys to reading success:

1. The reading materials themselves have to work for visual perception, brain processing and retention; add to that, effective reading strategies and literacy activities which result in the ability to decode, to generalize the material learned, and to meet school system requirements.

2. Secondly—or arguably first—the reading material, no matter what it is, has to engage the student, regardless of age. If the material we put in front of a student isn’t something he really cares about, none of his voluntary learning systems will be in gear. For many of our children, that translates into “door shut, end of subject.” Typically, for our learners with Down syndrome, learning to read is hard work. Offering them a reading system that both engages their hearts and uses effective reading strategies sets them on the road to literacy success.

Across this country, dedicated educators and homeschoolers are asking for the information you’ll find on this site; it is my hope that Special Reads materials and my workshops will spread the reading ripples far so that, indeed, no child, teen, or adult is left behind.

Many of my students with Down syndrome are adolescents who fell through the cracks in school systems and came to me without useful literacy skills. These are students who, not surprisingly for Down syndrome, could not learn through systems that were already in place. Historically, most educators are not specifically trained in best practice for teaching learners with Down syndrome to read; I hope this site will begin to change that.

“A Game Changer”

“Thank you so much for your program! I started with my adopted daughter from China with DS a year ago and I am blown away at her progress!…Now we’ve adopted a little boy, also with DS, and I’ve just started with him and am excited to see how he progresses. They definitely aren’t learning to read at school, so I am SO thankful for your valuable program…It will be a game changer for their lives!” –RBP, Georgia



Special Reads for Special Needs offers an effective, affordable reading program with full teaching instructions. In the classroom, it will most often outpace large, expensive reading programs in terms of quick success. Why is this? Two reasons: design and content.


In teaching reading to children with Down syndrome, I view reading materials from the viewpoint of the brain; its process of perception is one of my primary concerns. If the child’s brain can’t easily grasp the material visually, we’re putting unnecessary stumbling blocks in his reading path.

Our reading materials for Down syndrome are designed with unparalleled clarity: large type, double spacing between words, sans serif fonts, abundant white space to assist focus, and at the emergent level, no juxtaposed pictures competing for attention (at this early reading level, pictures can be a distraction rather than a “cuing aid” and are ideally placed on the not-yet-visible page following the text.)

As an educator of students with Down syndrome, I know firsthand that if the materials don’t interest them, we lose their cooperation, focus, and in the end, we slow their reading progress. Motivation, buy-in, interest—by any name—is essential for our students.

Humor and high interest topics lead the way with this Down syndrome reading program. In the words of Dr. Langdon Down, identifier of the syndrome, “Individuals with Down syndrome have a lively sense of the ridiculous.” Yes indeed they do! We target that “lively sense” with our sometimes-ridiculous reading books on pizza, ice cream, spaghetti, peanut butter, etc.


Using the twin tools of brain-friendly design and motivating content, as well as reading strategies designed for Down syndrome, Special Reads can successfully reach students who have not been able to respond to other reading programs.

“The joy on students’ faces is priceless…”

“Your Special Reads program has helped so many of my students and has made parents smile and cry at the same time. The joy on the students’ faces when they master a story is priceless. Seeing them read the story to their parents is even more priceless. This program has given me not only the tools to teach reading in a manner which benefits my students, but also provides students with self-confidence and a joy of reading! Thank you!” –C.H,  Oklahoma


Please use email or snail mail to send us your Purchase Orders:

  • 1421 N. Catalina St., Los Angeles, CA 90027

Educators will be interested in our 3-in-1 Bundle, which will supply them with Emergent Reader, Primer, and First Grade levels of reading material, including an Educator’s Guide and the book Whole Child Reading: A Quick-Start Guide to Teaching Students with Down Syndrome and Other Developmental Delays.

Why it works




girl with Down syndrom reading

boy with Down syndrom reading

Down syndrom reading student

boy with Down syndrom practices reading