Teaching Tools

Boosting Communication in Special Education: The CAR Strategy for Shared Reading

Vicki Clarke
November 3, 2023

Boosting Communication in Special Education: The CAR Strategy for Shared Reading

Vicki Clarke
November 3, 2023

Communication is a vital skill for your child’s development, particularly when they’re in special education programs. Fostering expressive communication can be challenging, but there’s a helpful strategy for parents and teachers: the CAR (Comment, Ask, Respond) method during shared reading. In this blog post, we’ll explore how you can use this strategy to enhance your child’s expressive communication.

Understanding the CAR Strategy

The CAR strategy is a simple but effective framework for meaningful interactions during shared reading sessions. It stands for Comment, Ask, and Respond:

  1. Comment: Start by making engaging comments about the book or text you’re reading. Share your thoughts to spark your child’s interest.
  2. Ask: After your comment, ask open-ended questions related to the story. These questions encourage your child to think, respond, and participate actively.
  3. Respond: When your child responds, be sure to acknowledge and expand on their answers. This step promotes a back-and-forth conversation and helps your child feel heard and valued.

The CAR strategy can be adapted to suit your child’s specific needs, making it a versatile tool for nurturing expressive communication in special education settings.

Why Shared Reading?

Shared reading is a wonderful activity for children in special education. It helps build vocabulary, improves comprehension, and strengthens your child’s connection to literature. Additionally, shared reading provides an ideal setting for developing expressive communication. By using the CAR strategy during shared reading, you can make a big difference in your child’s ability to communicate.

Enhancing Expressive Communication

Let’s see how the CAR strategy during shared reading can enhance expressive communication in children with special needs:

  1. Encourages Active Participation: When you make comments, ask questions, and respond to your child, you encourage them to actively participate. This is essential for developing expressive communication skills.
  2. Promotes Critical Thinking: The open-ended questions ask your child to think, express their thoughts, and articulate their ideas. This helps their cognitive development and expressive language growth.
  3. Fosters Language Development: Through meaningful discussions about the text, your child is exposed to new words and sentence structures. This exposure helps them express themselves better.
  4. Builds Confidence: When you acknowledge and expand on your child’s responses, it boosts their self-esteem and encourages them to share more. Over time, this builds confidence in their ability to communicate.
  5. Strengthens Bonds: Shared reading sessions with the CAR strategy create a positive interaction between you and your child. This strengthens their social skills and provides a safe and supportive space for communication.


Enhancing expressive communication in children with special needs is achievable with the CAR strategy during shared reading. By using Comment, Ask, and Respond during reading sessions, you can actively engage your child, promote critical thinking, develop language skills, build their confidence, and strengthen your bond. With dedication and patience, the CAR strategy can make a significant difference in your child’s ability to express themselves and engage with the world around them.

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