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Patterns of Reading Ability in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Abstract

This study investigated reading skills in 41 children with autism spectrum disorder. Four components of reading skill were assessed: word recognition, nonword decoding, text reading accuracy and text comprehension. Overall, levels of word and nonword reading and text reading accuracy fell within average range although reading comprehension was impaired. However, there was considerable variability across the sample with performance on most tests ranging from floor to ceiling levels. Some children read accurately but showed very poor comprehension, consistent with a hyperlexia reading profile; some children were poor at reading words and nonwords whereas others were unable to decode nonwords, despite a reasonable level of word reading skill. These findings demonstrate the heterogeneous nature of reading skills in children with ASD.

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Notes

  1. The Graded Nonword Reading Test is standardised on a UK sample of 653 children aged between 5 and 11 years. The test manual reports age equivalents and centile scores, but not standard scores. Following the procedures of Briscoe, Bishop and Norbury (2001), data from the standardisation sample were transformed to form standard scores which were then used to quantify the performance of children in the present study. Standard scores for the older children in the present study (aged 14 and 15 years) were obtained from a group of 50 15-year old typically-developing adolescents reported by Snowling, Bishop, and Stothard (2000). Consistent with Snowling et al., the test was made more difficult for the older children by adding five nonwords (strumbesh, delathode, tralishent, grikimest, pragendent).

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Acknowledgments

This work was supported by grants from The Wellcome Trust and The Innovation and Research Priming Fund (University of York) awarded to the first author. Some of the data were collected while she was a member of the Department of Psychology at the University of York. We are grateful to the participating families for their help and co-operation. We would also like to thank Maggie Snowling and Dorothy Bishop for providing additional control data for the Graded Nonword Reading Test, Philip Angell for research assistance and Courtenay Norbury and Dorothy Bishop for their helpful comments. We would also like to thank paediatricians Rob Smith and Anne Kelly for allowing us to approach some of the families under their care for this study.

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Correspondence to Kate Nation.

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Nation, K., Clarke, P., Wright, B. et al. Patterns of Reading Ability in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. J Autism Dev Disord 36, 911 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-006-0130-1

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Keywords

  • Reading
  • Language
  • Comprehension
  • Autism
  • Hyperlexia