Students with language based disabilities, such as autism, frequently have trouble demonstrating comprehension of text and language. Here are some strategies for teaching students to comprehend what they’ve read and heard.
Being able to answer WH questions can be very difficult when you have a language based disability. It requires lots and lots of practice and that practice should be varied.
Most of my students have an IEP goal that talks about students being able to answer comprehension questions after reading or hearing a text. Many of my students needed picture choices that went with the text. I used to spend a TON of time looking for picture choices, but no more! These reading comprehension books with visuals have saved me SO MUCH TIME!
I am able to easily customize the visuals based on my student’s needs. For example, if the student is struggling we use only one picture choice to make it errorless. This helps the student feel successful with a skill that has been very frustrating for him. It also helps us highlight why that is the correct choice.
There are also extra picture cards included in the sets, so we are able to increase or decrease the field of options as the student progresses.
Bonus: there are 8 books for each month and they pair nicely with my theme units!
Morning meeting time is a great time to work on WH questions that aren’t associated with text. You could ask a student a WH question to keep them engaged when it isn’t their turn and to practice comprehension. Here are some examples of the different questions we might ask:
Who: “Who gets to be the greeter today?”
What: “What did John put up on our weather chart?”
Where: “Where do we look when we say the pledge?”
When: “When is Sue’s birthday?” (we mark all special days on our calendar)
Why: “Why did we take December off the calendar?”
Click to read more about morning meeting:
We also need to make sure that we are teaching students to respond to text- not just read it. This is a vital step in teaching students life skills. For example, it isn’t functional to read a recipe if you aren’t able to respond to the instructions…. you need to be able to DO what it says.
Often times, our students don’t have the comprehension and attention to text needed to correctly respond to the text. Ever had students who just read to get to the end? Yup! They aren’t reading for comprehension and are going to have a lot of problems following written directions.
These read and do activities help teach students to read with meaning and then act on what they have read.
We start by teaching students to read and follow the directive during direct instruction. I start with one of the cards with the directive in isolation. Once students are able to do read and follow the written direction, we start to add in more directives. Not only does this teach students to read and follow written directions, it also helps build independence.
Once students are able to read and follow written directives during work centers, we then practice it in a variety of ways and across the day. The worksheets area great for work task boxes.
Click to read more about reading comprehension: