Reading comprehension problems for kids with autism: When kids with autism have reading comprehension problems it is often due to issues with pronoun confusion. Do you have a child who struggles with reading comprehension and is on the autism spectrum? Learn how to help your child understand what they are reading better by understanding better what causes the misunderstanding and confusion.
Several academic studies show that peer or parental tutoring goes a long way in helping children on the autism spectrum improve their reading comprehension skills. Pronoun confusion, or anaphora, is a common problem for children with autism.
Want to learn more about anaphora and what you can do to help your ASD child with reading comprehension problems?
I’m going to teach you what anaphora is, and give you free online resources that are guaranteed to improve reading comprehension problems for kids with autism.
If you commit to working with your child on a regular basis, your coaching will help him or her improve reading comprehension problems.
Are you ready to get started?
In the teaching world understanding which pronoun goes with which person place or thing is called an anaphoric expression.
Anaphora is when one word or phrase in a text stands for another word or phrase in a text.
Most reading comprehension problems for kids with autism stem from trouble connecting words like “it” or “them” to the person place or thing they stand for in a text.
Parents of kids with autism often see early reading abilities. But these kids later fall behind as reading comprehension problems mount. Was your child with autism recognizing letters of the alphabet at about age 2 and reading picture books by 4? If you are shaking your head yes, you’re not alone.
It often comes as a shock in 3rd or 4th grade when your autistic child starts to lag behind in reading comprehension.
There’s a logical explanation for this. Many kids with autism have trouble following along and understanding which terms refer to each other. And although they are great at rote memory, they struggle with understanding the big picture.
If you think this describes your child, then use the strategies here to help him or her at home. With regular work on reading comprehension problems and proper tutoring your son or daughter will learn how to make connections when he or she reads.
Understanding Anaphoric Expressions to Improve Reading Comprehension Problems
Many times kids with autism don’t realize they can figure out what an unfamiliar term means by using context clues. This is where anaphoric expressions come into play. Here is an old PBS video that explains anaphora quite well. It’s low budget and corny, I know. But if you watch it you’ll not only understand what anaphora means, you’ll also get a good idea how to teach anaphoric expressions to your child. The teacher begins her instruction at 4:49 minutes into the video and ends at 11:30 minutes.
Is your child answering correctly?
Seeing the connections?
If not, coach your child to see the right connection. In time your child will improve.
You should also incorporate computer games that reinforce anaphoric expressions. I’ve found a few free online games that focus on anaphoric expressions.
Check them out to quiz your child and help improve reading comprehension problems.
Free Online Games that Teach Anaphoric Expressions
Personal pronouns treasure hunt game
The Personal Pronouns Treasure Hunt BBC game is geared toward older kids and adults. It’s a no frills tutoring program that offers instant quizzing. The Treasure Hunt is free online pronoun game. Players get points when they are able to identify the personal pronouns in a sentence. The game has three playing levels for students, too: Spot the pronoun, use the right pronoun, or rewrite these sentences.
The Pronoun Clubhouse
The Pronoun Clubhouse is a Hartcourt School free online pronoun game. This game asks students to read sentences and choose a pronoun. When the student answers correctly they can continue building their clubhouse. Students are given hints to help them choose the right word, but there are no sample pronouns to choose from. Improper spelling, capitalization, and punctuation will also cause an incorrect answer even if the pronoun chosen is correct, so this exercise is best done with an adult’s help.
If Your Child has an IEP
Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) usually focus on a single word or concept when reading. They generally miss the big picture and develop reading comprehension problems in middle elementary school. If this is your child, there ought to be provisions in the IEP (Individualized Education Program) to address reading comprehension problems.
2 Strategies for Improving Reading Comprehension for ASD are:
- Pronoun Underlining: Teacher or parent underlines various pronouns in a text and orally ask the child to choose what that pronoun refers to.
- Peer Support: The regular classroom teacher pairs the ASD child with reading comprehension problems to a child with advanced reading comprehension. The peer tutor uses verbal cueing to help the ASD student draw from prior knowledge. Studies have shown that self-monitoring is too difficult for ASD kids who are great with rote memory. But when kids with high functioning autism and Asperger’s syndrome are exposed to peer tutoring their ability to comprehend ambiguous texts improves significantly.
One final note: anaphoric expressions are only one important reading comprehension skill. The National Reading Panel recognizes 7 other important reading comprehension skills that need to be taught. But a comprehensive study in 2007 showed that the most significant improvements came with anaphoric cueing. Verbal tutoring of anaphoric expressions with either a parent or a peer will give your ASD child the most bang for the buck. In short, this is a good start for you and your ASD child. Please check out our additional reading comprehension strategies for ASD kids. If you haven’t signed up for the RSS newsletter, please do. You’ll get a monthly email with our most recent content.