Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 43, Issue 4, pp 807–816 | Cite as

Reading Comprehension in Autism Spectrum Disorders: The Role of Oral Language and Social Functioning

  • Jessie RickettsEmail author
  • Catherine R. G. Jones
  • Francesca Happé
  • Tony Charman


Reading comprehension is an area of difficulty for many individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). According to the Simple View of Reading, word recognition and oral language are both important determinants of reading comprehension ability. We provide a novel test of this model in 100 adolescents with ASD of varying intellectual ability. Further, we explore whether reading comprehension is additionally influenced by individual differences in social behaviour and social cognition in ASD. Adolescents with ASD aged 14–16 years completed assessments indexing word recognition, oral language, reading comprehension, social behaviour and social cognition. Regression analyses show that both word recognition and oral language explain unique variance in reading comprehension. Further, measures of social behaviour and social cognition predict reading comprehension after controlling for the variance explained by word recognition and oral language. This indicates that word recognition, oral language and social impairments may constrain reading comprehension in ASD.


Autism spectrum disorders Reading comprehension Mentalising Oral language 



We are grateful to the adolescents and families who took part in the study. The study was funded by the Medical Research Council (G0400065) and research at the Centre for Research in Autism and Education is supported by the Clothworkers’ Foundation and Pears Foundation. Gillian Baird, Emily Simonoff and Andrew Pickles contributed to the design of the overall study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jessie Ricketts
    • 1
    • 5
    Email author
  • Catherine R. G. Jones
    • 2
  • Francesca Happé
    • 3
  • Tony Charman
    • 4
  1. 1.Centre for Educational Development, Appraisal and Research (CEDAR)University of WarwickCoventryUK
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of EssexColchesterUK
  3. 3.MRC SGDP Research Centre, Institute of PsychiatryKing’s College LondonLondonUK
  4. 4.Centre for Research in Autism and Education (CRAE), Institute of EducationUniversity of LondonLondonUK
  5. 5.Institute of EducationUniversity of ReadingReadingUK

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