Reading expands the breadth of a reader’s vocabulary, which in turn contributes to reading efficiency. In other words, the more you read the better reader you will become because a richer vocabulary gives more meaning to what is read. The opposite is also true, the less you read the poorer will be your vocabulary and the harder it will be for you to bring meaning to text. Normally, good readers learn most of their new words by using the context and their own experience of the world to add meaning. Often this meaning will initially be a gross approximation to the actual meaning of the word. However, after many encounters with the same word in a variety of contexts the reader will refine the depth of meaning and also see how meaning can change from one context to another.
To help these students there are some very practical ideas that have been suggested by Susan Gately (2008 see article for more details). I have listed many of these ideas below but have structured the methods in terms of my COR Literacy Framework (See earlier Blog) (also see my earlier Blog series on Fluency).
- Visually cued instruction – helps focus on relevant parts of information
- Provide concrete and tangible information
- Focus in relevant parts of the story or information
- Priming background knowledge
- Picture walks
- Visual maps
- Understanding narrative text structure
- Emotional thermometers
- Reciprocal thinking (also refer to reciprocal teaching - Google)
- Decrease reliance on other prompts and increase independence
Details about these ideas can be found in:
Gately, S. E. (2008). Facilitating reading comprehension for students on the Autism Spectrum. Teaching Exceptional Children, 40(3), 40-45.
For a more detailed explanation of vocabulary difficulties see pages 83-84 in:
Woolley, G. (2007). A comprehension intervention for children with reading comprehension difficulties. Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties, 12(1), 43-50.
A very informative article and book chapter related to problems with vocabulary for children with ASD:
Lopez, B., & Leekham, S. R. (2003). Do children with autism fail to process information in context? Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 44(2), 285-300.
Leekam, S. (2007). Language comprehension difficulties in Children with autism spectrum disorders. In C. Cain and J. Oakhill (Eds.), Children’s Comprehension Problems in Oral and Written Language: A Cognitive Perspective (pp. 104127), NY : Guilford Press.