Reading Comprehension in the First Year of Schooling for Verbal Students Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Poster Presentation
Saturday, May 4, 2019: 11:30 AM-1:30 PM
Room: 710 (Palais des congres de Montreal)
J. M. Paynter1 and M. Westerveld2, (1)School of Applied Psychology, Griffith University, Southport, Australia, (2)Allied Health, Griffith University, Southport, Australia
Background: Students diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are at risk of persistent reading difficulties, particularly reading comprehension, with challenges reported in over 50% of students. Early literacy skills are strong predictors of later reading success in children without a diagnosis of ASD. To date however, limited research has investigated early literacy skills in children diagnosed with ASD and whether they are significant predictors of later reading success.

Objectives: Using the Simple View of Reading (Gough & Tunmer, 1986) as a guiding framework, we assessed the reading comprehension skills of children diagnosed with ASD in their first year of schooling and investigated 1) the concurrent links between reading comprehension and reading accuracy; 2) the concurrent links between reading comprehension and listening comprehension; 3) the links between school-age performance on reading comprehension and pre-school ability on listening comprehension, vocabulary, and print concepts (i.e. print and word awareness).

Methods: Students diagnosed with ASD were first assessed at Time 1 during pre-school (n = 57, mean age = 57.61 months, SD = 5.73) and again at Time 2 following entry to their first year of formal education (n = 41, mean age = 73.37, SD = 4.54). At time 1 all participants had their ASD diagnosis verified, could speak in short-phrases, and were able to sit and attend for at least brief periods to complete assessments. At each time point a battery of assessment measures was completed, including at Time 1: listening (story) comprehension (Profile of Oral Narrative Ability [PONA]), vocabulary (Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-4), and print and word awareness (Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening - PreK); at time 2, reading comprehension and reading accuracy (York Assessment of Reading for Comprehension) and listening comprehension (PONA).

Results: In the first year of formal schooling, 21 of the 41 were able to accurately read two grade-level short passages. Of these 21, 38.1% performed within expected limits on the comprehension component. For the 21 students who completed the comprehension task, reading comprehension was significantly linked with reading accuracy with a medium effect, r = .44, p = .048. Reading comprehension was significantly linked to listening comprehension with a large effect, r = .83, p < .001. School-age performance on reading comprehension was significantly linked to pre-school ability on listening comprehension (r = .69, p = .001), vocabulary (r = .78, p < .001), and print concepts (r = .47, p = .03) with medium to large effects.

Conclusions: Only 38% of the participants showed age-appropriate reading comprehension skills in their first year of schooling. As expected, reading comprehension showed strong correlations with both reading accuracy and listening comprehension skills, consistent with the Simple View of Reading. Finally, pre-school vocabulary knowledge and story comprehension skills significantly linked with later reading comprehension skills. Taken together these results indicate that reading difficulties may be detected prior to, and in, the early years of schooling for children diagnosed with ASD. This highlights the potential for early assessment and targeted intervention to support later reading success for students diagnosed with ASD.

See more of: Education
See more of: Education