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.