The purpose of this study is to determine if there is an effective strategy for teaching reading comprehension for learners with autism that can be implemented in a public school classroom. As an autistic support teacher for six years, I have seen students with autism struggle with reading comprehension. Hours are spent on implementing direct instruction in order that students will be able to decode text on grade level. Often some students will be able to decode text at their instructional grade level, but are unable to answer a question about what happened in a passage they just read. It is evident that the students face a struggle understanding what they read. Ricketts (2011) noted that the point of reading is to comprehend what is in the text not simply to decode the words on a page.
There are different types of questions that can be asked of students when assessing reading comprehension. Explicit questions can be asked as well as questions that require students to make inferences. In one study (as cited by Williamson, P., Carnahan, C., & Jacobs, J., 2012) Myles and her colleagues found that students with autism were able to answer questions that were found in the text rather than inferential questions. This suggests that students answer questions more fluently when they are able to return to the text for their information.
When I ask comprehension questions of my students, they will often respond by repeating the last word or two of the sentence that they just read. Williamson, Carnahan, and Jacobs (2012) state that “many individuals with autism spectrum disorder may hyperfocus on minute, and frequently insignificant, details rather than on the big picture, challenging their ability to comprehend an...
... middle of paper ...
Disorder. 40, 890-902. doi: 10.1007/s10803-010-0938-6
Ricketts, J. (2011). Research Review: Reading comprehension in developmental
disorders of language and communication. The Journal of Child Psychology and
Psychiatry, 52:11, 1111-1123. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2011.02438.x
Whalon, K. Otaiba S., & Delano, M. (2009). Evidence-based reading instruction for
individuals with autism spectrum disorders. Focus on autism and other
developmental disabilities. 24(1), 3-16. Retrieved from
Williamson, P., Carnahan, C., & Jacobs, J. (2012). Reading Comprehension
Profiles of High-Functioning Students on the Autism Spectrum: A
Grounded Theory. Council for Exceptional Children. 78(4), 449-469.
Retrieved from http://cec.metapress.com/content/34160467741v7586/?p=b8611d8276bf4 51795de3e53dbfa163e&pi=3
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