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tdbates78

HF ASD and Reading Comprehension

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Hey everyone! So one of my twins has been previously diagnosed with Autism Level 1. I pulled her out of PS in 1st grade and we are almost finished with our 3rd grade year. She still very much struggles with reading comprehension. She can read just fine, and reads above grade level. But comprehension has always been a struggle. 

We are currently taking our required annual standardized test, the Iowa, and she bombed the reading comprehension portion. She did okay last year because the answers themselves were usually somewhere in the paragraph, word for word. But this year they are supposed to pull out answers based on the overall context and tone of the story. As an ASD child she sees things very black and white and has a difficult time forming a conclusion on her own. She can't seem to guess or understand the mood of the reading either, so questions about how someone may be feeling (sad, happy, anxious etc) goes right over her head. And she has an inability to guess what may happen next even though, to most of us, the answer would be rather obvious. 

I'm at a loss as to how to help her. We have a reading comprehension workbook that we do a few times a week. She hates it. Usually I have to end up reading the passage to her and then, sometimes, she can answer the questions. When she reads it sounds like a lot of run-on sentences. She doesn't pause for punctuation or change her voice to coincide with the story. I don't know how to force someone to comprehend what they are reading. 

I'm wondering if therapy would help, but if so what kind of therapy? Any advice or wisdom anyone wants to share?

Edited by tdbates78

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I don't know if you've seen some of the other threads on the main part of the Learning Challenges board, but from at least 2-3 of us, you'll hear, "Work on narrative language development."

Testing
The Test of Narrative Language is likely going to be eye-opening. If you can get someone (SLP, psychologist, etc.) to run it, it should be helpful.
There are probably other language issues, and if Peter Pan chimes in, she will have additional tests to recommend. The biggest deal with testing is that some kids do great with multiple choice tests (a lot of standardized language tests are multiple choice, which is NUTS). The TNL is one that is open-ended, so it's a great place to pick up on problems.

Resources
Products from Mindwing Concepts--Braidy the Story Braid, The Story Grammar Marker, etc. Also potentially something like the Expanding Expression Tool. Again, others might have more tools to recommend, such as Visualizing and Verbalizing, but that's not where we started, so I hope they'll speak up. The autism books that go with the Mindwing Concepts suite of products is excellent. Even if she doesn't need all three, I would highly, highly recommend the Making Connections book. https://mindwingconcepts.com/collections/autism-collection

Therapy
Speech and Language therapy even if her articulation is great--look for a therapist that specializes in literacy, and if they autism and literacy, that helps. If that's not available, work on it yourself with the products from Mindwing. I honestly struggle to implement this kind of therapy, but after watching a therapist and talking things through, I am finding my sea legs, so to speak. Some parents find these products super easy to pick up and implement. I think the earlier and younger you start, the easier it is to find them a good fit right out of the box.

Regarding the run-on reading--that could be related to comprehension. It's hard to use expression if you don't understand the text. It can also be related to grammar, social cues, or be part of the "flat tone of voice/flat affect" that some kids with autism have, and that's probably more of a language pragmatics/social skill thing.

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Ok, like Kbutton is saying, it's complex, a number of things, sigh. We could almost talk past each other because there are many terms and assumptions that are easy to make. So if our answers start to seem nitpicky or in the weeds, just know that some things maybe were issues for my kid or someone else's kid and not yours. But just to say oh this is what it is, you could miss more of what's going on. 

The most superficial, obvious thing you're mentioning is inferences. Known gig in autism, huge gig. You can get whole workbooks on inferences and you should. If you look into it, they're a very complex topic with lots of ways to go at them, and honestly it's not all in brain right now. Suffice it to say you can be really canned and simple or get more involved. In autism people are going to pigeon hole knowledge, so they need help and practice to use prior knowledge to make inferences. They also need to do it in lots of settings, lots of contexts, so it generalizes. They're also going to tend to focus on trees and miss the forest. I think it's possibly harder with the really bright kids, because they're noticing so much, thinking so much, maybe just not noticing what they NEED to, lol.

Another glaringly obvious topic you're hitting on is SEL=social emotional learning. BJU is fine stuff, and I've wondered if it would be good for my ds. It sounds like it's not explicit enough and maybe isn't what she needs. Or maybe build those skills other ways and then come back. Anyways, there are various ways to hit SEL. My *personal* opinion is work on the Interoception (her awareness of her own body), which after phase 1 (what is my body doing?) and phase 2 (what is that "feeling"?) leads to phase 3 (how do other people feel?). So working on Interoception will BRING ALIVE your read aloud time and your literature discussions, because she'll be more attuned to the clues and you'll have that foundation to discuss them.

There are other issues, like syntax, morphology, decoding, vocabulary, attention, etc. We could make some assumptions that since she's ASD1, not 2, that she might not have syntax and morphology issues, dunno. That will just vary. I'm going to suggest https://serpmedia.org/rise/  It says 5th and up, but when you get into it I think, iirc correctly, they had it normed for 4th and up. She's a rising 4th grader. Just play with it, since it's only $7, kwim? What it does for you is crank out some numbers across a bunch of different categories, so you can say ok for her to go into a mainstream classroom and not need intervention she would be fine on this but not that, etc. That's what the cut scores there tell you. So you get this relative comparison going and can start to see pockets of weakness, like maybe some weakness in vocabulary or syntax or morphology. It doesn't take long to administer and it cranks you out that info right away. If you want to wait a few months, fine, but it's no harm no foul to do it. Given how bright she is (am I remembering that right?) the scores may surprise you. The shocked the pants off me with my ds. That's how I knew what the issues were NOT, lol.

What's left, like Kbutton is saying, is your narrative language and more complex stuff. You'd like some data to tease it apart. Probably if you got her tested she would have narrative language issues. I mean I would just assume it. Maybe not? How are her narrations? You can see the developmental charts at MW/SGM and see where she is for stages. That would be diagnostic for you and free. Testing is great, but I'm just saying as a quickie way look at the charts and watch how she narrates and you'll see where she is.

3 hours ago, tdbates78 said:

She still very much struggles with reading comprehension. She can read just fine, and reads above grade level. But comprehension has always been a struggle. 

Ok, when I say this about my ds, it's partly hyperlexia, that he's literally not comprehending the language. He can read it and have zero clue what he read. When he was 6 and 7 it would be something as simple as "A frog sat on a log" and he would have no clue. For that level of reading comprehension difficulty, they call it hyperlexia or word calling, meaning they're reading out words but aren't connecting those words to meaning. We had a dreadful amount of work to do to start to overcome that. So he could read it and not tell you anything about what he read, zilcho, nothing at all. Now he can read and understand (within the range of what we've done intervention for syntactically), but he's going to struggle with an orderly narration and his narration won't be age-appropriate. Oh and I just got back word he failed the SPELT again. After as much progress as we've made. It's just that he literally should have it all by now, all his grammatical structures, and doesn't. 

Anyways, that's stuff you can tease apart. But we would both be saying reading comprehension and you might mean inferences and I might mean hyperlexia, narrative language, and syntax. So you want to see what elements she's getting and what she's not. You'll probably come up with several things to work on and you'll be able to merge them. For instance, what's working brilliantly with my ds right now, now that we've had enough basic intervention, is to read a picture book and use that to work on our skills. That's definitely something an SLP would do, but they would pump up their own knowledge of how to MILK that picture book or they'd actually do explicit lessons before heading to the picture book. So there are some easy ways for you to build in habits of working on these skills.

I really like the Spotlight on Reading workbook series. It has books on inferences, main idea vs. details, etc. Good stuff. I use a lot of ebooks from major publishers like Carson Dellosa, Spectrum, Evan Moor, etc. If she's not using these skills in the BJU reading, she's also going to struggle with them in other content areas. I have my ds doing some really nice science workbooks to let him work on those reading comprehension skills in content areas. They totally KICK HIS BUTT, lol. So as much as I like the BJU stuff, it's more important for my ds to be working on those skills. 

If you need links, I'll come back later. Here's the thing with reading comprehension. This comes super easily for some kids. Like my dd was just whiz bang, always on. Even the BJU was tedious to her. And some kids, like yours, like mine, are gonna need more, more than a regular curriculum. So there are intervention materials, but some of this stuff like the Evan Moor is that middle of the road, easily accessible, stuff that you'll find is being used by Intervention Specialists. So you'll see them mentioning it in the reviews, that they use them in their pullouts or that they're an IS. So the IS who runs my ds' IEP loves, super loves Evan Moor. Every time she sees I'm using something from there she kisses me. Another IS who did my end of year review said same thing, loved that I was using these workbooks, that I was using stuff she uses. So you can sometimes see that materials were being written for an audience, maybe for a class or setting where kids needed a bit more explicitness, work that was a bit more within reach.

Well anyways, gotta scoot. Keep thinking and let us know what you're thinking.

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4 hours ago, tdbates78 said:

She did okay last year because the answers themselves were usually somewhere in the paragraph, word for word. But this year they are supposed to pull out answers based on the overall context and tone of the story. As an ASD child she sees things very black and white and has a difficult time forming a conclusion on her own. She can't seem to guess or understand the mood of the reading either, so questions about how someone may be feeling (sad, happy, anxious etc) goes right over her head. And she has an inability to guess what may happen next even though, to most of us, the answer would be rather obvious. 

Lol, I say Peter Pan will chime in with narrative language, and she says, "Maybe." 

The stuff I quoted above is stuff that was not glaringly obvious for my son at your DD's age, but it became more so, and testing ties it back to narrative language. The Mindwings/Story Grammar products are fixing it. There might be multiple ways to skin the cat though. It can be true that for my son, those issues were due to narrative language problems, but the lynchpin for your daughter might be something else, or it might be multi-pronged.

But it's so, so common to have narrative language issues with ASD that I am totally happy to assume you'll need products for it at some point. 🙂 It sounds like Peter Pan would too, but I am glad she added more nuance. That's her experience talking.

I should also note that my son had social skills work and tutoring with intervention specialists leading up to the narrative language stuff, and it's hard to tell if that information was better integrated with the Story Grammar stuff, or if it paved the way for the Story Grammar stuff to be successful. However, I think the Story Grammar stuff and the Expanding Expression Tool are global tools with room to grow and go sideways, so if something is missing, it will be obvious, you can fix it, and you can continue again later with that resource. Like, it's a good pathway and a spine to hang other tools on.

Edited by kbutton

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Wow. You both are amazing. Truly! Thank you. 

You've given me a lot to think about. I need to become more versed in the terminology! I'm sure there is a much more articulate way to express my concerns but you both get it and for that I thank you. She is very smart. At home it's almost easy to forget that she has the diagnosis. When I pulled my daughter out of public school, because she wasn't getting what she needed and had so much anxiety, she immediately thrived and I naively thought I could get a firm grasp on some of her ASD tendencies and work through them with her myself. And in many ways I have. But as she's gotten older, and as the work becomes more demanding, some of those things are becoming more glaringly obvious.

I do like BJU but I don't know if it's enough. Funny you should mention it because right now I have four tabs open while I research language arts curriculum. I've checked into Evan Moor in the past, and liked what I saw, but always wondered if it was enough.I I will absolutely look into it again. I don't like the BJU writing so I skip those chapters. She seems to do well enough on the daily work but I definitely have to work with her. She has never been an independent worker. 

I'm taking notes on everything mentioned and plan on doing lots of research. I will do whatever I can on my part. I am going to get her an evaluation as well. She had an IEP in school, and some therapy before she started public school, but it's been awhile. She was doing speech for years but stopped recently based on her progress.  It sounds like we, or rather the therapist, was perhaps focusing on the wrong kind of speech. 

Thank you for all of the suggestions! I'm grabbing a cup of coffee and will be looking into each one. 

 

Edited by tdbates78

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1 hour ago, tdbates78 said:

I'm taking notes on everything mentioned and plan on doing lots of research. I will do whatever I can on my part. I am going to get her an evaluation as well. She had an IEP in school, and some therapy before she started public school, but it's been awhile. She was doing speech for years but stopped recently based on her progress.  It sounds like we, or rather the therapist, was perhaps focusing on the wrong kind of speech. 

Sometimes it's not "wrong" so much as getting all the cars on the train in the optimum order or it won't go. Or, you have to tinker with it more, let it generalize as PP has mentioned, or cycle through multiple iterations.

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2 hours ago, tdbates78 said:

She was doing speech for years but stopped recently based on her progress.  It sounds like we, or rather the therapist, was perhaps focusing on the wrong kind of speech. 

What were they working on? Sometimes you max out what the SLP knows. Sometimes an SLP is willing to buy tests and learn how to do new things. Sometimes it's easier to do it yourself.

2 hours ago, tdbates78 said:

right now I have four tabs open while I research language arts curriculum.

I guess it would be interesting to see whether you need to ditch the curriculum or supplement the curriculum. An ASD1 dc in our ps district would mainstream and not even be given an IEP. I'm not saying that's right, but I'm just saying it's not your imagination that she can do curriculum. My ds has a language disability as part of his ASD2, he can't do curriculum straight yet. So maybe think about what level of intervention you're needing and what's going on. Like if you found some supplemental workbooks that could fill in her deficits, maybe she could continue with the BJU. I think any other grade leveled curriculum would be the same thing (Abeka, Mosdos, whatever), where she'd need some topical pullouts. Is she doing well with the BJU LA except for specific things? Or is it ALL or mostly a slog? That might tell you too.

So no, the Evan Moor and other things wouldn't be a curriculum. They're pieces and teachers will pull them together to create a complete, well-rounded effect. 

Fwiw I've used the Spotlight series from Linguisystems/ProEd *and* the 

https://www.proedinc.com/Products/31821/spotlight-on-reading-comprehension-6book-set.aspx

https://www.carsondellosa.com/104556--story-elements-resource-book-grade-1-2-paperback-104556

https://www.carsondellosa.com/104559--summarizing-resource-book-grade-1-2-paperback-104559

https://www.carsondellosa.com/104550--cause-effect-resource-book-grade-1-2-paperback-104550

https://www.carsondellosa.com/104543--compare-contrast-resource-book-grade-1-2-paperback-104543

https://www.carsondellosa.com/104553--inferring-resource-book-grade-1-2-paperback-104553

See if that's all the books in the series. If you just put in Spotlight on Carson Dellosa, they don't show up, sigh.

So for the Spotlight series from Linguisystems, that's therapy level stuff, even though it's the same title, not related. So they have Spotlight for all sorts of things, and it was the language stuff I used, not the reading. But again I'm just teaching you to fish. You can look through this and use your judgment and figure out what would hit her where she is. Those are different levels of intervention, using a topical workbook from an education publisher vs. a workbook aimed at SLPs. There *are* curricula aimed at being sort of that tier 3 level of intervention for reading comprehension. I don't know that your dd needs that. That's not what you *expect* for an ASD 1 with no language disability, but hey who knows. But those tools are out there. You're just going to keep stepping up the level of intervention.

Remember, you can make more potent whatever you're already doing by looking at tier 3 interventions and going ok, this is the mindset, this is how we get there, and then trickling it down to what you're using. That's another thing you can do to help yourself. 

 

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https://www.kelly-mahler.com/what-is-interoception/  Here's Kelly's work on interoception. This is part and parcel of what you're needing to get that social emotional piece to allow her to make more connections and inferences. Her own lack of awareness is biting her. You can work on inferencing with workbooks, but she needs the RAW DATA of her own awareness of her own experiences to get her there. Interoception issues do not get outgrown, do not poof, and she can be an adult and just as clueless. Or she can be a kid in this day and age, get 8 weeks of intervention running through the curriculum, and begin to BLOW YOU AWAY with the connections she can make. And that's literally how it rolls. 16 parts of the body done over 8 weeks, and you will get measurable difference, life changes. And that's only phase 1 and 2. Phase 3, where she applies that to other people is how it begins to affect reading comprehension. You can make inferences when you're missing all the clues.

Here, I was looking for something to get you started on the different types of inferences and why it's important not to work on them only one way. https://www.robeson.k12.nc.us/cms/lib/NC01000307/Centricity/Domain/3916/Inference 1.pdf 

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A quick comment on the multiple choice reading comprehension.  I think it can help to make it explicit that the “right answer” to the question is *not* the “absolute” right answer, but the answer the test makers are looking for.  Don’t answer the question in your head and then despair when that isn’t one of the options.  Examine the options given and see what you can eliminate, what the possible right answers are, why one might be more right than the other... It can be sort of a game, and an exercise in perspective taking.  “What answer is the test maker looking for?  What answer would most people think was right? What answer is a trap?  Why? What detail/exception do I know, that the test maker wouldn’t think of?”  As a gifted and autistic kid, recognizing that my answer and the test maker’s answer might differ helped me with multiple choice exams. 

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On 6/6/2019 at 11:52 AM, Lawyer&Mom said:

A quick comment on the multiple choice reading comprehension.  I think it can help to make it explicit that the “right answer” to the question is *not* the “absolute” right answer, but the answer the test makers are looking for.  Don’t answer the question in your head and then despair when that isn’t one of the options.  Examine the options given and see what you can eliminate, what the possible right answers are, why one might be more right than the other... It can be sort of a game, and an exercise in perspective taking.  “What answer is the test maker looking for?  What answer would most people think was right? What answer is a trap?  Why? What detail/exception do I know, that the test maker wouldn’t think of?”  As a gifted and autistic kid, recognizing that my answer and the test maker’s answer might differ helped me with multiple choice exams. 

This is very powerful, but it doesn't ultimately fix language glitches. It actually covers them up if the student can do this well. But for general survival with grades? This is a great strategy.

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23 hours ago, kbutton said:

This is very powerful, but it doesn't ultimately fix language glitches. It actually covers them up if the student can do this well. But for general survival with grades? This is a great strategy.

 

Definitely work on underlying reading comprehension itself.  But since reading comprehension is so often a multiple choice game, might as well learn how to play it!  But a broader point is true:  the Autistic way of interpreting the world isn’t necessarily *wrong* per se, but it sure isn’t the viewpoint you are going to be tested on in life.  For example, we have “focuses on irrelevant details in narration.”  Well when I’m hanging out with my Autistic friend and he is describing every inch of his latest train adventure, I *love* every single “irrelevant” detail!  Our Autistic minds align and we have a great time.  Try to find a time and a place to embrace that Autistic worldview, even if that time and place isn’t a multiple choice test. 

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I would also encourage you to not be afraid to drop down the difficulty level to where she can actually comprehend easily. This may be way below where she would be by grade. I'm really loving ReadWorks these days. You can choose either a grade level OR lexile level, and filter articles that way. She might partially hate the comprehension you're doing because it's too hard. And ReadWorks is FREE! They have multiple choice and open-response questions that go along with articles. Sometimes the multiple choice questions are unnecessarily wordy, so I just cross them out 🙂

I love Lawyer&Mom's suggestion of making it a game. Also, if the student's answer and the test-maker's answer are not quite the same, maybe the OP could convince her daughter to write down what SHE thinks is a good answer (or have mom scribe), and also circle what she think the test-maker thinks is the best answer.  

I also 100% support further testing, like the TNL, so you know exactly what you should target and what she's good with already. 🙂 

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