Reading for Meaning and Autism Spectrum Disorders
What makes reading for understanding especially challenging for children on the autism spectrum? Autism Spectrum Disorders are a cluster of developmental disorders characterized by deficits in communication and social interactions as well as cognitive processing deficits. Learners within the spectrum exhibit a range of strengths and weaknesses, with a full range of intellectual abilities from above to below average.
No matter where children fall on the spectrum, children with autism spectrum disorders generally demonstrate well-developed word recognition skills, but their reading comprehension is severely impaired. To read for understanding, readers draw upon a wide range of cognitive abilities, such as inferencing and attention, motivational strategies, such as setting a purpose for reading, and knowledge, such as vocabulary and prior knowledge of the topic. Also, we know that students with ASD typically have a lack of back ground knowledge that also impacts a learner’s ability to read for meaning. In addition, vocabulary also has a significant effect on reading for meaning. Shades of meaning is one easy strategy to incorporate in your day to increase your students’ vocabulary skills. Incorporate one of these activities in your reading lessons.
Autism Statewide Network
TTAC members across the state collaborate quarterly to provide instructional resources as well as training and technical assistance for teachers of students with autism. Members also participate on the Virginia Autism Council to improve services for individuals with autism from birth to adulthood, and coordinate with staff members of the Virginia Autism Center for Excellence (ACE). For example, regional Communities of Practice in Autism (CoLAs) have been established as a joint effort with ACE and T-TACs, and staff members have participated in the state grant from the National Professional Development Center for Autism to offer training and technical assistance in evidence based practices for students with autism. Our mission statement: Through collaboration, statewide T/TACs will build capacity through professional development, instructional resources, and library materials to professionals, families, divisions, and agencies to improve outcomes for young children and youth with autism spectrum disorders.
VCU Autism Center for Excellence
Take advantage of seminars, courses and webinars available at the VCU Autism Center for Excellence (ACE). All of the training activities are based on the Skill Competencies for Professionals and Paraprofessionals in Virginia Supporting Individuals with Autism Across the Lifespan. (Download the Skill Competencies) ACE bases the trainings on up-to-date evidence-based research and practices and sources such as the National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder and the National Autism Center. These activities are free to all Virginia residents. Visit the VCU Autism Center for Excellence.
An online presentation to demonstrate compartmentalization and structure in a self- contained classroom for students with autism.
Alternative Pencils give students access to the alphabet and can help students with significant and/or intellectual disabilities engage in emergent literacy activities. This module demonstrates five different types of alternative pencils.
The purpose of collecting data is to provide objective evidence of a program’s effectiveness and to guide instructional decisions. Educators can ensure that they provide meaningful instruction by collecting useful data on students’ progress and then use the data to make instructional decisions. In other words, with meaningful data, educators can adjust their instruction in response to students’ performance.