Autism/Asperger Syndrome & Reading Comprehension
Children who have been diagnosed with autism or Asperger Syndrome often appear to be excellent readers.
They can often call out the words on a page of text, sometimes at a level that far exceeds their grade level in school.
Reading comprehension may be a problem, because many children with autism and Asperger Syndrome may not grasp the main idea or theme of the text.
These children may have difficulty identifying the plot or the conflict in the story; they may struggle with inferring the character’s motivations and feelings about the conflict. These skills are called “making inferences”, “drawing conclusions” and “making predictions”. These critical thinking skills are needed for reading comprehension.
Children with autism and Asperger Syndrome may also struggle with social interaction.
Children must have the ability to read facial expressions, think about others and take another child’s perspective in order to judge which groups are friendly and which ones to avoid. They must be able to anticipate how problems occur in order to take steps to avoid them. They must also be able to negotiate and compromise in order to get along with others and make friends.
Parents can reduce the risk of reading comprehension and social thinking problems by getting their children enrolled in appropriate intervention…the earlier the better.
Remember that prevention is a lot more effective and less expensive than remediation. To prevent comprehension and social interaction struggles, children must be seen by speech-language pathologists who understand the language skills needed to succeed academically and socially. Once these struggles surface, parents must seek professionals who can identify the causes of these comprehension and social thinking problems and then treat them from the ground up.