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Autism and Reading Comprehension: Pre-requisites and Strategies

Reading comprehension is a common concern with individuals with Autism, so I thought I would summarize a wonderful article (full article below) and highlight a couple prerequisite skills and strategies to increase comprehension!

First, comprehension is more than merely being able to recognize a text/sight word, for example, the meanings of those words, their structures, inference, and of course background knowledge (derived relations), and self-awareness (metacognition) are also components that need to be in place.

This is an especially difficult skill to acquire, as with Autism, there is often some level of limited processing due to under-connectivity between the frontal, and partial lobes. This includes working memory deficits, difficulty focusing on words rather than a bigger/global understanding, and visual comprehension. Inference can also be difficult, and also relies on theory of mind (emotions, perspective-taking - being able to draw on another person’s motive, emotion).

The best way to teach both visualization and even text/reading comprehension is to:

-make generalizations and work on theory of mind (emotion, social contexts, and perspective taking- directly related to the ability to infer).

To further teach inference, and generalization, it is important to make sure your child/learner can:

-Attribute own and other internal states (emotions, perspective taking)- beyond easily recognizable facial expressions

-Demonstrate cognitive flexibility (this is as simple as sorting activities: word sorts in which the learner is asked to sort a set of word cards, first based on initial consonant sounds, then categories such as foods and non-foods, and opposites.

If you would like to read the full article, you can find it here:…/PMC28920…/pdf/nihms194198.pdf


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