Reading Abilities of Hebrew Speakers with ASD
Studies of reading in ASD mainly focused on text reading and comprehension. They report that children with ASD read at their age-level, but exhibit reading comprehension difficulties and difficulties in reading in context.
This study is the first to test reading abilities at the word level and analyse error types in ASD. Its aim was to assess their reading in the framework of the Dual Route Model and if they show difficulties, identify the locus of impairment within the reading process.
Participants were 70 Hebrew speakers with ASD aged 8-27 (M=15.8, SD=4.8; 9 female, 61 male). All were diagnosed with ASD prior to the study. Control groups for each ASD participant were age-matched individuals with no known developmental disorders.
The participants' reading was evaluated using the TILTAN reading screening task, which includes reading of 136 single words, 40 nonwords, and 60 words presented in pairs. Correct responses were counted and in-depth error analysis was made to detect different types of dyslexia.
The analysis of accuracy and error types yielded three reading profiles : Intact reading (n=36), dyslexia (n=22), and reading deficits as a result of an impairment in lexical retrieval (n=12). Namely, for half of the participants, reading itself was unimpaired.
Of the ASD participants with dyslexia, the most common pattern was that of reading via grapheme-to-phoneme conversion, instead of reading through the lexical route (which may also explain their semantic difficulties in text reading); 9 other ASD participants with dyslexia had impairments in orthographic-visual analysis, mainly in letter position encoding (letter position dyslexia) or letter-to-word binding (attentional dyslexia).
This study was the first to assess the reading abilities of Hebrew-speaking participants with ASD. More than half of the participants had age equivalent reading abilities. Three main types of dyslexia's were found, an important finding when considering educational and intervention programs.