Effects of Asd on Reading Comprehension and Math

Topics: Autism, Autism spectrum, Understanding Pages: 6 (1686 words) Published: June 17, 2013

Effects of ASD on Reading Comprehension and Math
Matthew O’Donoghue
American International College



Autism spectrum disorder children often face difficulties in several areas within the educational setting and curriculum. This paper will identify the affected child’s academic strengths and weaknesses within the areas of reading comprehension and math. It will describe evidenced based programming within the aforementioned areas and provide a description of typical educational settings, as well as, long term expected outcomes. Recommendations of evidence based interventions including how and why the programs should be selected will be shared.


For most of ASD students, they are stronger at rote learning and literal comprehension. They have a more difficult time when asked to apply their knowledge, complete multi-step problems or assignments, and demonstrate their higher order thinking. The first academic area of need for autistic students is in math. Math is compact so that every number and symbol is critical to understanding. Math statements have high abstraction and the reading of word problems also have abstract word meanings, relationships between people, etc. Difficulties with the use of memory and strategies can create problems with conceptualizing mathematical operations and algorithms, representing and recalling math facts, and solving word problems (Wendling & Mather, 2009). Therefore, it is essential to teach explicitly and be concrete in your use of language, teach multiple meanings of math vocabulary, and allow for hands-on manipulation of problems. The second area of academic need for autistic students is reading comprehension. Reading is a critical skill for student success in school and post school opportunities. Although a number of children with ASD will develop the decoding skills necessary to read text, many will continue to struggle with reading comprehension. Cognitive abilities most related to reading comprehension include verbal ability and listening comprehension, reasoning, and working memory. Students with good decoding but poor reading comprehension do not have an impairment that is specific to reading, but rather the difficulties are usually related to a more general impairment in language comprehension involving the processing and storage of verbal material (Wendling & Mather, 2009).


Autistic students display several academic strengths. They understand concrete concepts very well; understand context-specific language (language that can be directly related to an experience), memorize rote material easily and quickly, recall visual images and memories easily, think in a visual way, can learn chunks of information quickly, learn to decode written language at an early age, have extraordinarily good long-term memory, understand and use concrete rules and sequences, and can be very precise and detail-oriented. Autistic students’ academic weaknesses show up when asked to apply their knowledge, complete multi-step problems or assignments, and demonstrate their higher order thinking. There are also deficits in language, behavior, and social skills. Research indicates that good readers of all ages engage in conscious, active comprehension strategies before, during, and after reading (Pressley & Wharton-McDonald, 1997). Before reading, for instance, they may define their goals for reading and consider what they already know about a topic and the structure of a text. During reading, they typically activate relevant prior knowledge, make connections among important ideas, construct and test hypotheses, paraphrase...

References: Mather, N., & Wendling, B. J. (2009). Essentials of Evidence-Based Academic Interventions. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey.
National Association of Elementary School Principals: What Does Good Math Instruction Look Like?, 2007. Retrieved from http://www.naesp.org/resources/2/Principal/2007/S-Op51.pdf
Gradin, T. (2006). Perspectives on Education from a Person on the Autism Spectrum. A School for the Common Good, 229-234.
Whalen, K., & Hart J. E. (2011). Adapting an Evidence-Based Reading Comprehension Strategy for Learners with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Intervention in Scholl and Clinic,v46 n4 p195-203.
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