Reading comprehension difficulties in ASD

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					   Comprehension in ASD:
How Theory Can Inform Practice

      Eileen Balfour & Gill Earl
• To describe two evidence-based ASD
  interventions focusing on comprehension
  – Listening comprehension
  – Reading comprehension

• To emphasise the value of practice that has
  strong theoretical foundations

• To highlight some links between ASD theory and
  the theory that underpins A Curriculum for
       Supporting listening
    comprehension in ASD using
Our ability to use language lies at the centre
  of the development of our emotions, our
   thinking, our learning and our sense of
               personal identity.
 Literacy experiences and outcomes within
 the Curriculum for Excellence promote the
development of critical and creative thinking
   as well as competence in listening and
     The activity of using Lego is in itself
          rewarding (LeGoff,2004).
                       Theory - What ?
Barrier Games incorporating Lego can support elements of
reciprocal social interaction and communication in children
                          with ASD.
                              • Understanding the
                                individual. Mind
                                Blindness’ and ‘Theory of
                                Mind’ - Impairment
                              • Social Communication
                                Skills group for children
                                with Asperger’s
                              • Generate effective
                                intervention strategies.
Theory - Why ?
       •   Social interaction scores -
           improvement (Competence
           impacts on independence levels)
       • Listener requires specific
         information /may have to ask a
         question to clarify
       • Teaches readiness for
         instructions, waiting until the
         end of an instruction before
         acting, thinking and saying the
         instruction in your head before
         acting and checking
       •   Meeting the needs of the learners
           - communicative effectiveness
       •   -creating confident individuals
Impact - (So what ?)
          • Supports the use of a
            Structured /
            individually targeted
            programme (Howlin,
          • Improves joint
            attention / ‘referential’
            understanding /
          • inbuilt reward.
Now What ?
     • Barrier games with
       Lego are easy to set
       up / portable and
       allow for creative
     • Transferability of
       knowledge needs to
       be taught directly
       rather than assumed
• ASD specific research
• Check understanding
• Alert the child to their role
• Specifically teach the social skills of listening
  and not interrupting
• Be explicit with instructions
• Make child aware of themselves as a problem
  solver, using visual and auditory means to
  promote self reflection and recognition of self
• Non-ASD specific research
• Pupil is to be seen as a thinker - not a passive
  recipient of knowledge
• Give pupil more responsibility for their own
• Engage the learner
• Focus on understanding
• Collaborative working
• Learning without limits
Baltaxe,C.(1997). Pragmatic deficits in the language of
   autistic adolescents.Journal of Pediatric
Legoff,D.B.(2004). Use of LEGO as a therapeutic
   medium for improving Social Competence. Journal of
   Autism and Developmental Disorders. 34 (5). 557-
Owen,G.,Granader, Y.,Humphrey,S, and Baron-
   Cohen,S. (2008).Lego Therapy and the Social Use of
   Language Programme. An Evaluation of Two Social
   Skills Interventions for Children with High Functioning
   Autism and Asperger Syndrome.Journal of Autism and
   Developmental Disorders 38: 1944-1957
   [Accessed 10/12/2010]
  Supporting reading
comprehension in ASD

           - What?
           - Why?
           - So What?
           - Now What?
                Theory – What?
• good decoding vs. poor comprehension

• particular difficulties with:
   –   inference
   –   non-factual material
   –   using background knowledge
   –   using context

• ‘drop off’ in adolescence
              Theory – Why?

• language difficulties
  – comprehension

• information processing difficulties
  – general
  – ASD specific
          Impact (So what?)
• Reading comprehension skills are crucial
  – independent learning
  – academic progression

• Learners with ASD need supports that
  target their particular difficulties with
  reading comprehension.
                Now what?
• What can the literature offer:
  – General strategies?
  – ASD specific strategies? address the type of reading
   comprehension difficulties found in ASD. support the learning style of learners
   with ASD.
       ASD specific research:

• Structured teaching of reading skills
• Structured teaching of linguistic skills
• Peer tutoring
• Pre-reading supports
• Structural supports
   Non-ASD specific research:
• Reciprocal teaching of…
  – Comprehension monitoring
  – Question answering and generation
  – Predicting
  – Summarizing
• Inference training
     A Curriculum for Excellence
Understanding, analysing and evaluating –
   To help me and/or appreciating fiction and
investigatingunderstand stories and other texts, I ask
                • with increasingly complex
non-fiction texts successful learners I already
   questions and link what I am learning with what
               • confident ENG 0-17a
   know. LIT 0-07a LIT specialist vocabulary
ideas, structures /and 0-16a / individuals for
different purposes
                  • responsible citizens
  To show my understanding across different areas of
  learning, I can:
               • effective contributors
  • identify and consider the purpose, main concerns or
  concepts and use supporting detail
  • make inferences from key statements
  • identify and discuss similarities and differences between
  different types of text. LIT 3-16a
• Chiang, H. & Lin, Y. (2007) Reading comprehension
  instruction for students with autism spectrum disorders:
  A review of the literature. Focus on Autism and Other
  Developmental Disabilities, 22(4) 259-267

• Flores, M. & Ganz, J. (2007) Effectiveness of direct
  instruction for teaching statement inference, use of facts
  and analogies to students with developmental disabilities
  and reading delays. Focus on Autism and Other
  Developmental Disabilities, 22(4) 244-251

• Nation, K., Clarke, P., Wright, B. & Williams, C. (2006)
  Patterns of reading ability in children with autism
  spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental
  Disorders, 36(7) 911-919