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Drawing a Blank: Improving Reading Comprehension in Good Decoders with Autism Spectrum Disorders Presented by Emily D. Iland, M.A. Educational Consultant

2 A personal & professional perspective

3 Tom Iland, age 3 “In cannis corpore transmuto”

4 Our Agenda Examine the reading process and comprehension
Understand how features of ASD affect comprehension Discuss issues in evaluation Identify skills that must be explicitly taught Share intervention ideas and techniques tailored to the needs of readers ASD (new and used!)

5 Anticipated Outcomes Integrate theory and practice (what to know, what to do) Inform practice based on research findings Gain skills and to help students or clients Choose from tools you already have to focus on this population

6 View thru the ASD lens Be discerning & selective
when reading comprehension research, data, reports, techniques, recommendations, and strategies to determine The Fit with ASD View thru the ASD lens

7 Based on the brand-new book
Drawing A Blank: Improving Comprehension for Readers on the Autism Spectrum Autism Asperger Publishing Company

8 Examining the Reading Process: What is Reading?
Get on the same page to define, understand and measure reading!

9 Defining Reading Our definitions of reading guide our understanding and views Different reading assessments are based on different definitions of things like “comprehension”

10 The Simple View of Reading R = D x C
Reading is the product of the processes (x not +). It involves language and cognition. It is not as simple as it sounds, because the processes of decoding and understanding are complex and inter-related If you can Decode and have Linguistic Comprehension, you are reading! Gough & Tunmer, 1986

11 The Simple View of Reading R = D x C
Problems can arise with D, C or both → Problems with “D only” can be called dyslexia Problems with “C only” can be called hyperlexia (different than precocious hyperlexia)

HYPERLEXIA “Strong mechanical word recognition with comparatively poor comprehension” GOOD DECODING with POOR COMPREHENSION IN PEOPLE WITH ASD Grigorenko, E. L., Klin, A, Pauls, D. L., Senft, R., Hooper, C., & Volkmar, F. (2002). A descriptive study of hyperlexia in a clinically referred sample of children with developmental delays. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 32(1), 3-12.

13 Hyperlexia is a learning disability
Grigorenko, E. L., Klin, A., & Volkmar, F. (2003). Annotation: Hyperlexia: Disability or Superability? Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 44(8), GOOD DECODING with POOR COMPREHENSION IN PEOPLE WITH ASD

14 A more complex definition of reading National Reading Panel (2005), p
“A form of dynamic thinking [that] includes interpreting information through the filter of one’s own knowledge and beliefs, using the author’s organizational plan to think about information (or imposing one’s own organization on ideas), inferring what the author does not tell explicitly, as well as many other cognitive actions.”

15 The purpose and the essence of reading
What is comprehension? The purpose and the essence of reading C R

16 Understand the Reading Process and Comprehension…
To recognize the skills good readers possess To recognize where the comprehension breakdown can occur To inform approaches to “repair”

17 Comprehension= Constructing Meaning
Understand the text at the word and sentence level, “word knowledge” Identify relevant information

18 Comprehension= Constructing Meaning
Relate, compare and integrate to what is already known a.k.a. “world knowledge” or prior knowledge Internalize to own experience

19 Comprehension= Constructing Meaning
Create a new construct or idea, the gist or meaning Store the new idea Retrieve upon demand

20 Factors contributing to reading comprehension
Fluent word recognition skills Vocabulary knowledge World knowledge Comprehension monitoring Active use of comprehension strategies Pressley, M. (2001). Comprehension Instruction: What Makes Sense Now, What Might Make Sense Soon

21 What good comprehenders do
Know why they are reading Understand the point Relate to prior knowledge Relate to other text See cause and effect Interpret characters’ actions and emotions Understand the author’s intentions

22 What good comprehenders do
Monitor understanding Use strategies flexibly and in combination Re-read Look back Predict Revise/repair Infer Summarize Mark, highlight

23 5 types of reading comprehension
All five types of reading comprehension may be challenges for readers with ASD who can decode but don’t understand Literal Inferential Critical Affective Lexical (Adapted from Salvia & Ysseldyke, Assessment in inclusive and special education, ninth edition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.)

24 1. Literal comprehension
Understanding explicit material in text

25 2. Inferential comprehension
Understanding ideas beyond the literal text by interpreting, synthesizing and extending meaning

26 3. Critical comprehension
Meaning derived by evaluating, analyzing, and making judgments about material that was read.

27 4. Affective comprehension
Relating to the material at a personal and emotional level.

28 5. Lexical comprehension
Making sense of text by knowing the meaning of key vocabulary words.

29 What is ASD? How does ASD affect reading comprehension?
The use of this slide pattern is a comprehension strategy This visual cue helps you follow the author’s organization of ideas.

30 The Autism Spectrum Understanding why people with ASD have difficulty with reading comprehension is helpful in determining how to help them. Interventions tailored to the needs of learners with ASD are more effective! Efforts to remediate the core deficits and support other features can also improve the literacy skills that are affected by them.

31 The Context of Sensory Sensitivities
Three Essential Characteristics B S C The Context of Sensory Sensitivities Neurobiological Causes ©2011 Emily Iland, M.A.

32 Autism Spectrum Disorders Affect
S= social interaction and reciprocity B= Behavior, limited focus, interests or motor mannerisms C= Communication, verbal and non-verbal Global= Sensory response to the world around them ASD affects the ability to spontaneously learn these things, but they can be taught

33 The Autism Spectrum 1 2 3 4 People are affected severely or less severely in the core areas & have different areas of strength. The features of ASD can have pervasive effects on reading, learning, and applying what is learned though reading.

34 Autistic Disorder (299.00): Diagnostic Criteria:
A total of 6 of 12 features Social Behavior Communication 34

35 Qualitative impairments in communication at least one of these four:
(a) Delay in, or total lack of, the development of spoken language (not accompanied by an attempt to compensate through alternative mode of communication such as gesture or mime) (b) In individuals with adequate speech, marked impairment in the ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others 35

36 Qualitative impairments in communication at least one of four:
(c) Stereotyped and repetitive use of language or idiosyncratic language (d) Lack of varied, spontaneous make-believe play or social imitative play appropriate to developmental level

37 Communication The language-literacy link
Understanding oral language Language processing Auditory processing Difficulties with speaking, listening and understanding affect literacy: reading and writing

38 The language-literacy link
A different timeline/uneven development Receptive and Expressive Vocabulary (number of words) Vocabulary Gap Literal and concrete vs. figurative, abstract and inferred Difficulty with images, imagination & imagery

39 Communication & Language affect C
Receptive and expressive vocabulary Language development Unfamiliar or unknown words interfere with understanding at the sentence and text level The development of lower level and higher level language skills affect comprehension at the word, sentence and text level. © 2011 Emily Iland, M.A. Do not reproduce, duplicate or publish

40 Communication & Language affect C
Children with autism may follow different stages in developing word meanings. Affects using word meaning to organize, categorize and recall information Difficulties may arise in the stages of over-generalization, generalization and multiple meanings. Understanding word meanings © 2011 Emily Iland, M.A. Do not reproduce, duplicate or publish

41 Communication & Language affect C
Interpretative language abilities Conceptualization, reasoning, and logical analysis skills generating inferences resolving ambiguity understanding cause & effect monitoring comprehension © 2011 Emily Iland, M.A. Do not reproduce, duplicate or publish

42 Communication & Language affect C
Recognizing and interpreting nonverbal cues described in literature. Recognizing and responding to nonverbal language © 2011 Emily Iland, M.A. Do not reproduce or duplicate

43 Communication & Language affect C
Difficulties with pronouns Problems understanding pronouns in print and understanding to whom the pronouns refer (anaphoric cuing). © 2011 Emily Iland, M.A. Do not reproduce or duplicate

44 Communication & Language affect C
Good readers ask questions before, during and after reading. Generating questions before reading helps establish purpose and focus. Questioning text while reading helps integrate the material with background knowledge. Questioning while reading is a way to monitor comprehension. After reading, good readers ask questions about the meaning of what they read and how to apply the information to their own lives. Difficulties in conversation skills, including asking questions © 2011 Emily Iland, M.A. Do not reproduce, duplicate or publish

45 Play as Communication affects C
Lack of imitative play Lack of pretend play Lack of imagination Do not practice words and actions for a variety of real-life roles. The person may not recognize or understand those words and roles in stories. Can affect understanding of narratives, including plot, action, and cause-and-effect. Affects ability to understand and create visual images of unfamiliar or fantasy material. © 2011 Emily Iland, M.A. Do not reproduce, duplicate or publish

46 Shades of Meaning Activity Not all synonyms are created equal!
Teaches synonyms, expands vocabulary Reveals the hidden meaning behind words Teaches connotation: the emotion and intention attached to specific words Clarifies the perspective and intention of characters or the author (social thinking)

47 Shades of Meaning Activity - + =
Words can be positive, negative or neutral. The added, hidden meaning can be light or heavy. The “heavy” meaning can be heavily positive or heavily negative

48 Rating & Ranking Synonyms: Example
Thrifty, frugal, stingy, economical Rate +, –, or = (judgment or inferred meaning) Rank from lightest to heaviest “emotional load” Have the student write the words on a paint chip, neutral words first, then light meaning then heavy meaning (either heavily positive or heavily negative)

49 Shades of Meaning Comprehension Activity
Form a group for this activity, 3-4 people. In a moment you will be given four words. Copy them down. The Group will RATE EACH WORD as, positive, negative or neutral by giving it a rating +, –, or = Decide together how to RANK YOUR WORDS on the paint chip in order from the “lightest” to the “deepest” shade or intensity of meaning

50 Shades of Meaning RATE (+ – or =) & RANK (light to heavy)

51 Autism and Asperger Syndrome Diagnostic Criteria: Qualitative impairment in social interaction (two of four features): marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures to regulate social interaction

52 Autism and Asperger Syndrome Diagnostic Criteria
b) failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level

53 Autism and Asperger Syndrome Diagnostic Criteria
(c) a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people (e.g., by a lack of showing, bringing or pointing out objects of interest)

54 Autism and Asperger Syndrome Diagnostic Criteria
(d) lack of social or emotional reciprocity Shared emotion, social pacing Reciprocity: give and take

55 Social Features Affect C
Limited play skills Limited shared enjoyment Limited joint attention Can affect cognitive development, learning and literacy Less shared social activity, including shared book reading with adults. May not pay attention to a shared object such as a book at the bidding of another. May not point to pictures or words to direct the reading partner’s interest. © 2011 Emily Iland, M.A. Do not reproduce or duplicate

56 Social Features Affect C
Limited social experiences Limited world knowledge and word knowledge affects literal comprehension. Can affect understanding of narratives, including plot action cause-and-effect prediction © 2011 Emily Iland, M.A. Do not reproduce or duplicate

57 Social Understanding Affects C
Lack of social understanding Limited social skills People with ASD miss cues from the real-life environment or context and are likely to miss this in text. May have difficulty relating to characters and situations, integrating the story with personal experience. © 2011 Emily Iland, M.A. Do not reproduce or duplicate

58 Social understanding affects C
Difficulty with social understanding Problems with perspective-taking Theory of Mind (ToM) Can cause problems understanding appropriateness of character actions and reactions. Can affect social understanding of a character’s thoughts, feelings, behaviors and motivation, as well as interactions between characters. © 2011 Emily Iland, M.A. Do not reproduce or duplicate

59 Social Understanding Affects C
Perspective-Taking (Theory of Mind) Recognizing deceit, lies, etc. Understanding the author’s view and intentions © 2011 Emily Iland, M.A. Do not reproduce, duplicate or publish

60 Lack of Imagination affects C
Extreme difficulty understanding text that is imaginative, beyond the scope of the person’s actual concrete experience WITH EXCEPTIONS One young man with ASD said, “If it hasn’t happened to me, my mind is a blank page.” Affects the ability to write creatively and inventively as well as understand invented realities in text. A common compensatory strategy is the reliance on safe, practiced, or borrowed responses that may appear novel or original (Doyle & Iland, 2004). © 2011 Emily Iland, M.A. Do not reproduce, duplicate or publish

61 Comprehension Idea Don’t ask “IF,” ask “WHEN”
Relate to the KNOWN Avoid the Unknown

62 Comprehension Activity: Two True Social Thinking and Theory of Mind
In random order, write down two things about yourself that are true, AND one “believable lie” on an index card. Find a partner. Exchange Cards. Try to guess which statement is not true. Talk about it! Come back to order when the signal is given. These instructions are written in a way that supports your comprehension.

63 3) restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities, at least one of four (a) Encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus (b) Apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals 63

64 (d) Persistent preoccupation with parts of objects
3) restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities, at least one of four (c) Stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g., hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements) (d) Persistent preoccupation with parts of objects

65 R & R Behavior/intense interests:
Range from typical but young, to eccentric Move thru different ones, simple to complex Focus on objects over people

66 R &R affects C Poverty of Experience is not experienced only by the poor
Perseveration: The knowledge and experience base in ASD are narrow and deep instead of shallow and wide Limited background knowledge and exposure to a wide range of topics…and the language that goes with it. Affects vocabulary, word knowledge, world knowledge and conversation Disinterest in stories about non-preferred topics, less motivation, less reading: The MATTHEW EFFECT

67 R & R Affects C Grade level or general interest material is less familiar (more difficult). Material may be less interesting or motivating Exposure to a narrow range of topics Repeated exposure to the same topics © 2011 Emily Iland, M.A. Do not reproduce or duplicate

68 Specialists in a generalist world
May get stuck on a preferred topic. Know less about other topics or subjects to relate to Limits activities and interests to share with others (world knowledge, word knowledge, social understanding). Unexpected depth of knowledge in a specific area of interest may limit conversation and cause social isolation

69 R & R Affects C Reading can become a solitary, self-directed and isolating experience (Reading together should expand joint attention, shared enjoyment, vocabulary, and meaning). Reading as the restricted and repetitive interest © 2011 Emily Iland, M.A. Do not reproduce or duplicate

70 R & R Affects C Limited general fund of knowledge
Narrow focus of interest/ knowledge May understand less; may not understand knowledge, facts and vocabulary expected to be familiar (poverty of experience). “Connection” breaks down when the person has difficulty relating the new to the known (integration) then storing an idea to be retrieved later (memory). Can affect the ability to transfer or apply known material to new situations (generalization) © 2011 Emily Iland, M.A. Do not reproduce or duplicate

71 R & R Affects C Literal, specific and concrete understanding.
Understanding can become narrowly “contextualized,” bound to direct experience Can affect generalization of knowledge from one setting to another. Difficulty understanding imaginative text that is beyond the scope of the person’s actual experience. © 2011 Emily Iland, M.A. Do not reproduce or duplicate

72 R & R Affects C Restricted focus
Self-stimulatory behaviors: motor mannerisms, insistence on sameness, rigid adherence to routine, etc. Difficulty with multiple meanings of words. Likely to have a single meaning related to their area of interest. (e.g. FORCE) Can limit productive, engaging behaviors that would widen a person’s scope of interaction, activities and knowledge. Can limit interest, attention, motivation, and focus. Can affect the benefit of reading, being read to, and discussion of literature. © 2011 Emily Iland, M.A. Do not reproduce, duplicate or publish

73 Positives of “R&R” Comprehension IDEA
Favorite and preferred topics and activities can be useful Preferred subjects can be chosen to illustrate points and practice skills. Focusing first on the preferred may be highly motivating. Benefit of rules, routines, and lists.

74 Comprehension IDEA: Roots, Suffixes and Affixes= apply a formula to words
Teach how to break words into parts and memorize roots, affixes and suffixes Of all the strategies we used, Tom reported that this was the breakthrough for him. As always, it is wise to start by breaking down the parts of words from the person’s area of intense interest, whether it is Star Wars or weather or trains

75 Combine R&Rs with M&Ms memory & manipulatives
ful source re Roots, suffixes and affixes

76 The DISSECT mnemonic, (Lenz & Hughes, 1990)
To understand multi-syllabic words and learn new vocabulary Useful in content-specific texts such as science or social studies for longer and more complex words Seven steps include: D discover the word's context. I isolate the prefix. S separate the suffix. S say the stem or root word. E examine the stem or root word. C check with someone. T try the dictionary. See Bremer, Clapper and Deshler in “Improving Word Identification Skills Using Strategic Instruction Model (SIM) Strategies,” found at

77 Cognitive/learning profile
Understand how people with autism think to intervene effectively Be aware of common difficulties in the cognitive/learning profile to guide the search for answers

78 The obvious & hidden sides of ASD
Outward, observable behaviors described in the diagnostic criteria = developmental differences Neurological evidence = explains causes & brain- based reasons for the developmental differences 78

79 Autism as a Disorder of Information Processing Minshew & Williams, 2008
Complexity Information Processing

80 Difficulty Processing Information
Complexity of Information Amount Structure Time constraints Multiple simultaneous demands

81 Autism as a Disorder of Complex Processing
Processing multiple modalities Multi-tasking Social engagement, communication and thinking are complex processes Highest demands= greatest difficulty Difficulty integrating a variety of information at once (central coherence, comprehension)

82 Associated Features Affect C
Central Coherence Getting the Big Picture Integrating the parts and the whole: Synthesis The GIST: getting the point Separating relevant from irrelevant Understanding cause and effect Predicting, Inferring

83 Associated Features Affect C
Executive Function Organize a goal-directed activity Focus Pay attention (to the right things) Shift attention Sense the order in the material Sequence Re-tell

84 Other Cognitive Processes Affect C
Higher Level thinking Skills Metacognition (thinking about thinking and learning about learning) Problem solving Cognitive flexibility Self monitoring Self-regulation Active use of strategies

85 Associated Features Affect C
Visual Over-Stimulation Loses place easily when reading Can’t follow along when others read Has trouble finding answers to questions in text or with “Look Backs”

86 Text organization Teach to preview text before diving into the book.
Find the visual clues- boldfaced words, definitions. chapter headings, pictures, the type of text Show the organization of text within chapters (show the author’s order)

87 Review: 5 types of reading comprehension
All five types of reading comprehension may be challenges for readers with ASD who can decode but don’t understand Literal comprehension – understanding explicit material in text. Inferential comprehension – understanding ideas beyond the literal text by interpreting, synthesizing and extending meaning. Critical comprehension – meaning derived by evaluating, analyzing, and making judgments about material that was read. Affective comprehension – relating to the material at a personal and emotional level. Lexical comprehension – making sense of text by knowing the meaning of key vocabulary words. (Adapted from Salvia & Ysseldyke, Assessment in inclusive and special education, ninth edition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.)

88 What can we learn about the issues in Comprehension from research about ASD?

89 The problems Smith-Myles, 2002
Independent and silent reading comprehension 1-6 grade levels behind frustration with independent reading & grade-level texts loss of motivation to read Nation & Norbury, 2005 65% of students with ASD had a comprehension deficit of at least 1 standard deviation and one-third had severe impairments. O’Conner & Klein, 2004 Below age-level comprehension

90 Holman, 2004 Holman’s subjects with hyperlexia and those with autism scored near the mean on standardized tests; the controls scored approximately 1.5 SDs higher. While the standardized tests showed “average” comprehension near the mean, informal curriculum-based measures showed that the students with autism and hyperlexia were functioning at the frustration level in reading. (understanding of 70% or less of the material).

91 How do we assess and reveal comprehension issues in readers with hyperlexia?
ASD We must find out where they struggle!

92 Comprehension problems are masked by:
Good decoding and fluency Understanding of concrete facts Good memory Superficial understanding Use of safe and borrowed responses How comprehension is measured Being re-taught at home

93 The Matthew Effect In addition to their regular school reading, by grade four, students read one-half million words annually, including a good representation of grade-level-appropriate narrative and expository text (e.g., classic and contemporary literature, magazines, newspapers, online information). CDE The rich get richer and the poor get poorer So TRUE for readers with ASD, especially at risk around grade 3 to 4

94 View thru the ASD lens Be discerning & selective choosing
evaluation materials and methods to identify the comprehension gap View thru the ASD lens

95 Read the Test Manual! How is reading defined?
How is comprehension defined? Does the test measure what you want to measure? What else can you do? Review records to see how comprehension was measured in the past to understand why the problem was not revealed

96 WJ-III Test 9 Reading Comprehension Manual pp.80-81.
“An independent measure requires reasonable expectation that subjects have prior familiarity with the words used in the passages and have knowledge of any concepts that are prerequisite for processing the passage contents. If these conditions are not met the so-called passage comprehension is confounded with word recognition skills and knowledge. Some tests of reading comprehension are actually tests of information processing that happen to use reading as the medium of communication. Asking a subject to study a passage and then answer questions about the content, such as to state the author’s purpose or to predict what may happen next, does not tap into skills specific to reading. It taps language processing and cognitive skills…”

97 WJ-III Test 9 Reading Comprehension Test Manual pp.80-81.
“However scores from such tests do not measure the essence of reading comprehension, but instead reflect performance on a confounded language processing task with indeterminate diagnostic results. A program of remedial instruction planned for a subject may be ineffective if it is assumed that the problem is the subject’s reading skill when the problem is actually a symptom of a broader language processing skill.” EMILY NOTES: (Reading this, and knowing that students with ASD may perform in the average range in this test makes me wonder if maybe we should be measuring broader language skills to get to the bottom of the comprehension issue in ASD!).

98 Cloze procedure Does a cloze procedure really reveal how well a person reads and understands authentic text? Full pages? Chapters? Whole books?

99 Comprehension problems, revealed
Problems understanding what was heard Difficulty with abstract concepts and inference (beyond concrete and personal) Not being able to summarize, identify the main idea, retell events, or sequence text Difficulty answering questions, expanding on answers, finding the answers in text Not being able to write about what was read or said (including doing homework) Drawing a Blank

100 Comprehension problems, revealed
Difficulty following directions Informal measures or the right standardized assessments Language testing vs. academic testing When we don’t average results! WJIII Passage Comprehension PR 1 Reading Vocabulary PR 81 “Tom’s performance is average in reading comprehension.” Look at Standards and Expectations for several grades

101 REVIEW STATE STANDARDS Source: CA Dept of Education
Standard 2.0 Reading Comprehension Students read and understand grade-level-appropriate material. They draw upon a variety of comprehension strategies as needed (e.g., generating and responding to essential questions, making predictions, comparing information from several sources). The selections in Recommended Literature, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve illustrate the quality and complexity of the materials to be read by students.

 Structural Features of Informational Materials 2.1 Use titles, tables of contents, and chapter headings to locate information in expository text. Comprehension and Analysis of Grade-Level-Appropriate Text 2.2 State the purpose in reading (i.e., tell what information is sought). 2.3 Use knowledge of the author’s purpose(s) to comprehend informational text. 2.4 Ask clarifying questions about essential textual elements of exposition (e.g., why, what if, how). 2.5 Restate facts and details in the text to clarify and organize ideas. 2.6 Recognize cause-and-effect relationships in a text. 2.7 Interpret information from diagrams, charts, and graphs. 2.8 Follow two-step written instructions. California Department of Education Standards for Language Arts, Grade 3 Found at

103 Dibels Data System- Vocabulary Instruction for K https://dibels

104 Dibels Data System- Vocabulary Instruction Map for grade 3

105 Dibels Data System
Download a PDF version of the curriculum maps for Kindergarten - Third Grade Adapted Curriculum maps in Drawing A Blank


107 Comprehension problems revealed in the use of context
Homographs. The dove circled the pool and dove into the water. Poor ability to effectively identify the correct pronunciation of homographs while reading sentences (Frith & Snowling, 1983; Happe, 1997). Difficulty resolving ambiguity, including with pronouns: Sarah said hello to her mother when she came in and put her purse on her sofa. (anaphoric cueing).

108 Focused Intervention Define specific reading problems
Find effective ways to address them. Tailor intervention to the learning style and needs Use known strengths: concrete, visual, spatial, routine

109 Two types of comprehension instruction
Comprehension instruction necessary for understanding the immediate story Comprehension instruction that teaches strategies learners can apply on their own Both are critical for learners with special needs, including ASD! Be very aware of pre-requisite skills!!!

110 Emily’s List: 30 Skills to teach explicitly culled from the research- See Drawing A Blank
Build vocabulary Categorize objects in terms of concepts Know and use multiple meanings of words Recognize the connotation of synonyms Understand double meanings (jokes, irony) Use context to read homographs Understand non-literal meaning (idioms, metaphors) Separate relevant from irrelevant ideas Identify the main idea Summarize main ideas or plot (retell, sequence) © 2011 Emily Iland, M.A. Do not reproduce, distribute or publish

111 Emily’s List: 30 Skills to teach explicitly culled from the research- See Drawing A Blank
“Recode,” or “activate the word meaning in memory” Integrate background/personal knowledge Clarify/resolve ambiguity Understand metaphors Use organization of text Preview/prepare to read Analyze characters and their intentions Understand the author’s intention Self-monitor understanding Use comprehension strategies © 2011 Emily Iland, M.A. Do not reproduce, distribute or publish

112 Emily’s List: 30 Skills to teach explicitly culled from the research- See Drawing A Blank
Find factual information Answer questions Infer Use context clues Understand cause and effect Predict Draw conclusions Visualize Code information through the verbal system (logogens) Code information in the nonverbal system (imogens) © 2011 Emily Iland, M.A. Do not reproduce, distribute or publish

113 What Does Research Tell Us About Comprehension Intervention for Readers with ASD?

114 National Reading Panel Report
The recommendations are general, not specific to students with ASD. The NRP specifically eliminated all studies that focused on special needs populations from their analysis. The specific focus of the panel review, which can be considered a limitation of the Panel findings or application of recommendations. a chart of the data on comprehension strategies studied by the NRP

115 Limited Research There has been VERY LIMITED research into comprehension issues in autism, or in effective methods for improving comprehension. VERY FEW reading studies include subjects with autism or Asperger Syndrome. Studies including subjects with ASD have been SMALL In a review of the literature about reading comprehension instruction, Chiang and Lin (2007) identified 754 articles potentially relevant to the topic. Of these, only 11 had at least 1 participant with ASD. No studies had participants with Asperger Syndrome.

116 Tailoring intervention to ASD
Strategies used with students with ASD must take into account both the general cognitive profile as well as individual variations (O’Connor and Klein, 2004). Methods helpful to students with other learning differences may be appropriate for some students with ASD Some methods that work for those with other learning differences will not be effective for those with ASD

117 Avoid strategies that are NOT a good fit to ASD
Not recommended: Dictionary definitions Having students read text and answer questions (not an instructional method) May not work (O’Connor and Klein, 2004) Activation of prior knowledge Cloze task

118 Research says YES to… Informative title and primer passage
(pre-teaching facts)- Wahlberg, Wahlberg & Magliano Related narratives- Colasent & Griffith Anaphoric Cuing- O’Conner & Klein

119 Research says YES to… Pre-teaching basic factual concepts (primer passages) Informative title and primer (Wahlberg & Magliano) Related narratives (Colasent & Griffith) Anaphoric Cuing (O’Conner & Klein)

120 A visual of the same ideas

121 Primer passages Primer passages- just the facts
Tip: ELL materials often contain primer passages

122 PRIMER PASSAGE Example: Basic facts about oceans (extracted from the passage, “Looking at the Seas”)
Our Earth is a water plane. 71% of its surface is water. This is why earth is called the “water planet.” There are four main oceans, the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian and Arctic. Some people think there is a fifth ocean around Antarctica. All oceans and seas are connected and the same water travels through them all. A long time ago, all the land on our planet might have been grouped closely together.

123 Looking at the Seas If you look down at our planet from outer space, most of what you see is water; 71% of the planet’s surface is covered by ocean and it is because of this that the Earth is sometimes called “the water planet.” Only about three-tenths of our globe is covered with land. The ocean wraps the globe and is divided into four major regions: the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean and the Arctic Ocean. Some scientists consider the waters around Antarctica to be a separate, fifth ocean as well. These oceans, although distinct in some ways, are all interconnected; the same water is circulated throughout them all.

124 Primer passage & informative title- Pre-reading Strategy
Provide a clear title for a passage that does not have a title or is unclear. EXAMPLE: rename a passage about the Olympics with an ambiguous title such as “A Personal Best” to “Racing for the Gold.” 2. Prepare a primer passage that contains all of the main ideas of the passage to be read. Wahlberg and Magliano (2004).

125 Primer passage & informative title- Pre-reading Strategy
3. After reading a primer passage, ask readers to notice the title again, and make a link between the title of the selection to be read and the primer passage. This connection serves as an anchor to help readers focus on information relevant to the passage to be read. 4. After reading, discuss with the reader how the primer passage, the title and the passage itself all relate to one another. Wahlberg and Magliano (2004).

126 Activities Related to Primer Passages
Prepare questions to guide reading Search for evidence to questions

127 Related narrative passages (Colasent and Griffith, 1998).
Adolescent students with autism were more successful with recall and oral retelling when thematic stories were used as content. Drawing and writing about the stories improved retelling even more. The students were able to relate information from one rabbit story to another (text to text). Thematic stories, multiple exposures, and reading aloud may also benefit individuals with poor verbal skills or weak auditory comprehension.

128 Comprehension IDEA Who? Whom? Whose? Teaching Anaphoric Cueing
Addresses these comprehension skills… Difficulty with pronouns Self-monitoring of understanding Asking questions Clarification of ambiguity

129 Examples My mother and I are baking a birthday cake. We want to surprise grandma. Geraldo and Scott have been friends for a long time. They are on the same baseball team. The teacher saw that Emily did not bring a lunch and asked, “Do you have money to buy lunch?”

130 Who? Whom? Whose? Teaching Anaphoric Cueing
Teach the skill Highlight possessive pronouns in a short text. Decide what noun or person is referred to in each example. Read the passage together AFTER clarification Practice the skill Stop while reading to clarify Independent practice Monitor use of the strategy while reading

131 Next steps Practice the skill
Stop while reading to clarify (think aloud) Independent practice Monitor use of the strategy while reading

132 Comprehension IDEA Who. Whom. Whose
Comprehension IDEA Who? Whom? Whose? Teaching Anaphoric Cueing- Word® Version Cut and paste the same text into a Word ® document 3 times Use “find and replace” to substitute names and possessives for subject pronouns and possessive pronouns

133 What are some other promising intervention ideas based on research and evidence about ASD?

134 Promising Practices: How is Vocabulary Best Taught to students with ASD?
Direct, explicit instruction of unfamiliar or key words BEFORE reading (during or after are second choices). Choose KEY words important to understanding that will be encountered often. Focus on words with multiple meanings. Homographs: Words that look alike but don’t sound alike. She had a tear in her eye when she got a tear in her dress.

135 Comprehension IDEA The Synonym Strategy
Grows vocabulary, self-monitoring, pre-reading skills, multiple meanings, parts of speech A tool to instantly clarify word meanings- without a “dictionary” User-friendly and fast Takes the dic-straction out of the equation

136 The Synonym Strategy Type a selected text (paragraph or passage) into a word processing document. (The student may also be the typist). The boys were uncertain about what to do next. They had never seen a cadaver, much less had one blocking their egress.

137 The Synonym Strategy 2. Ask the student to pre-read the text and use the computer to highlight any words he or she does not know. The boys were uncertain about what to do next. They had never seen a cadaver, much less had one blocking their egress.

138 The Synonym Strategy For each highlighted word, have the student right click the computer mouse. The computer will offer a synonym. Have the student click on a word that he or she recognizes and knows the meaning of; it will automatically be substituted into the text. The boys were unsure about what to do next. They had never seen a dead body, much less had one blocking their way out.

139 The Synonym Strategy 4. Have the student read the text with the substituted, familiar words in place of the unfamiliar words. See if the selected substitute words make sense. Check for understanding of the passage with the synonyms in place. The boys were unsure about what to do next. They had never seen a dead body, much less had one blocking their way out.

140 The Synonym Strategy an original idea by EI
Finally, ask the reader to read the original text and check for understanding. The boys were uncertain about what to do next. They had never seen a cadaver, much less had one blocking their egress.

141 Benefits of the Synonym Strategy
Defines words in context Links the unknown with the known Quick and easy Maintains the train of thought A useful tool for life

142 Comprehension IDEA: Use objects
Jackdaw Sets © Great for hand-on, concrete understanding of obscure or essential objects Students can create their own sets Pre-reading strategy Builds vocabulary

143 Comprehension IDEA Technology Visuals
Voice threads: Still photos with narration Google Images- A picture is worth 1,000 words -examples pillory, hod, albatross

144 Visual Strategies Highlighting Removable highlight tape
Buy used books already highlighted

145 While reading: Teach Self-monitoring of Understanding
Highlight Draw Fill in graphic organizers Look for answers to questions Hand graphic organizer free at

146 Comprehension IDEA: Media Strategies
Show movies before reading books Read plays before reading books Summarize and sequence the events Analyze the plot, characters, themes & vocabulary before looking at the same elements in text. Turn on the closed captions on the TV “mapping of speech onto print”

147 Our Accomplishments Today
Examined the reading process Understand how features of ASD affect comprehension Identified skills to teach explicitly Practiced strategies & techniques Have more tools! Achieved a greater comprehension of the issue and What To Do

148 Your View thru the ASD lens
Integrate what you now know about comprehension, hyperlexia, & the person with ASD to select promising comprehension techniques and strategies! Your View thru the ASD lens

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