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Ron (Official Rep) July 10, 2012 17:27

Reading comp strategies

My oldest son (11, ASD) is progressing well in a lot of areas but not at all in reading comprehension. He'll read something (I can hear him reading to himself) but when it comes to answering questions, he can't come up with anything or go back into the text and find the answers.

Are there any specific strategies we should be trying at home?

Thanks in advance for your help.
Ron
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  • Perhaps you could model picking out key words by underlining them. If that's difficult, you could even start by crossing out the minor words of the sentence, such as "the" or "it"
    • Ron (Official Rep) July 10, 2012 17:46
      That's certainly a good idea, but he can read a fairly long text (a full page or two). Perhaps we should go back to much smaller text and work from there.
    • with a longer text, you might like to focus on the beginning sentence of the paragraph, picking out key phrases from the text, particularly those that repeat the key ideas?

      another idea might be to use some graphic organisers to break down the text into smaller chunks?

      does he draw? perhaps you could ask him to 'rephrase' the text as a manga comic strip or something. even stick figures would work.

      does he act? he might like to act it out, or maybe make a short play using Puppet Pals or the like.

      does he sing? write poetry? he could write a song about what he just read

      comprehension of text involves so much, including being able to decode words, understand the structure of the text (beginning, middle, end etc), definitions of words, cultural background, life experience, values, higher order thinking.

      ha! as i've been typing this, i see others have contributed :~)
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  • 3
    Can he ask and answer general -wh type questions (who, what, when, where, why) and other question forms such as "Can you?," "Will you?," "Do you?" and "Are you?" If he struggles with asking and answering questions in daily life, that could be the issue. Many children struggle with what these questions are asking of them and need explicit practice. I would start very simple by asking him concrete -wh questions such as: Where do you make a sandwich? When did you get up today? Why do you brush your teeth? What is a crunchy, red fruit? Who cuts your hair? Why and how questions tend to be the most complex question forms as they are abstract.

    On the other hand, if he can answer -wh type questions with ease and accuracy, he may be struggling with short term memory. In that case, allowing him to look back into the text seems like a great strategy! He could also take notes while he reads, draw a picture of important details (the who, what, when, where and why) or fill out a graphic organizer (just google them-there are many, many good ones). Kids with autism/asperger's syndrome often think in pictures, so allowing them to create a visual image of what they are reading is often very helpful in boosting comprehension and memory!

    Just a few ideas... I hope they help.
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    I would work on the "wh-" questions - go back and ask those questions. Short, open ended "Wh-" questions, as the poster above suggested. Work with him on answering the questions and where and how to find the answers. Break everything down into much smaller chunks. My daughter, also 11, with Down syndrome, struggled greatly with this concept up until this year.

    We also -- for school work -- have to pre-teach her the (main) concepts in different areas. For example, if she doesn't know what a Conestoga wagon is and gets stuck on this, she loses the rest of the concept in a paragraph. If she is familiar with the definitions before hand she learns with much more ease.
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    Reading Comprehension is a big area for most kiddos with ASD. We have the book, "I Get It!" by Audra Jensen which is all about Reading Comprehension Through Book Chats. We got one for our son's teacher last year and she said it really helped her help him. We use it at home and it does seem to break it down a bit.
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  • 2
    You may also want to ask your school if they are familiar with the Visualizing and Verbalizing program. I have not personally used it, but have heard of its success in supporting reading comprehension of students on the spectrum. It's worth a look! :)
    http://www.ganderpublishing.com/Visua...
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  • I suggest you try a great new App called Story Pals. My twins with autism are using it and love it! It has several great stories and you can create your own.
    We really like this.

    - Marc Zimmerman
    The Social Express
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    Reading is very complex and takes a lot of different "processes" to come together correctly.

    I remember going to a workshop and the presenter said "reading IS rocket science".

    A few ideas worth trying... Audio books? for some, auditory is a better way of computing and they can visualize the text that way. Also, read with him a couple sentences and see if he is getting ANYTHING out of the words. Maybe the individual words don't make sense to him and he needs to start with easier text to picture ratio (kind of like rebus).

    Just a few thoughts.
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    And graphic organizers can help to have him learn important information in text and write it down for later recall.
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  • Have you tried/heard of the Linda Moodbell method of comprehension learning...specifically Visualization and Verbalization? It teaches a reader how to 'make pictures in their head' so that they can 'watch' the movie when they need to re-tell or grab specific info. When I taught reading years ago, I LOVED the whole program
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  • We began by having my son read the questions first and color code them. Then after each paragraph he would highlight or highlight-tape any answers that were found in that paragraph with the color that went with the question. We had to work paragraph by paragraph when he was younger. He also needed to reread the questions before each paragraph. By high school he was able to 'imagine' the colors and recognize the answers to most concrete questions. Progress with inferential or deductive questions was made in stops and leaps.
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  • Ron
    I am working on an app now that sounds like it will suit you as you can create the text/audio and the questions. This will be necessary to start easy and work your way up.
    If you like I am happy to make you a tester so as to test it for your specific needs. Email me at paul@demografix.com.au and I will add you to our testing system at testflightapp.com

    Thanks
    Paul
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  • Ron (Official Rep) August 03, 2012 01:49
    Thanks for all the replies! (sorry for the delay, I read and forgot to respond.)
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