Reading and Reading Comprehension

Emma’s teacher and I have been brainstorming new ways to increase Emma’s reading comprehension.  We have tried the standard reading comprehension questions, which, as my friend Ibby pointed out, are typically filled with inconsistencies and problems.  We’ve tried the more standard reading comprehension questions such as a story about a boy named Peter who takes a taxi to the airport.  He gets on an airplane, buckles his seat belt and the plane takes off.  The questions are then, “Who took a taxi?” The answer, obviously is Peter took a taxi.  But the second question, “Where was he going?” is tougher to answer because we aren’t given the destination other than he took a taxi to the airplane and that isn’t actually accurate as he took the taxi to the airport, but the airport isn’t part of the story.  It tells us he took a taxi and then got onto the airplane where he buckled his seat belt, so Emma answered, “Going to visit Granma in Aspen!”  And while this isn’t the answer the creators of the questions were presumably looking for, it demonstrates that Emma certainly understands what the story is about and she is adding her own personal experience to the gaping holes the story provides.  In addition, the story has been dumbed down so completely, if we are “presuming competence” then Emma must be going out of her mind with boredom.

So this is the question I come up against almost constantly – how do we make the material interesting and engaging, but not so difficult it becomes frustrating.  How do we set Emma up to succeed and not fail without boring her?  How do we deal with her resistance to reading and writing?  I’ve made some headway by trying to do some playacting and using some of her favorite songs, but reading itself remains difficult for Em and she certainly doesn’t enjoy it.  Maybe I am making it too complicated. Maybe I’m over-thinking the whole thing.  Maybe it’s better to just present reading material and have her read it silently.  Then type questions that she types the answers to.  Maybe having her read aloud is causing problems.

What I am seeing over and over is that when she has trouble with a text we make the text easier, but I don’t believe that’s the answer.  I’m not sure making it “simpler” is better.  My biggest challenge with all of this is that this is not my area of expertise and I have no idea how to proceed.  Emma’s teacher continues to try different things, but we haven’t found anything that seems to captivate, motivate or particularly interest her.  I have to think about this more.  I’ve printed out some of her favorite song lyrics, but there were too many words she couldn’t read and so much slang, I quickly abandoned the idea.  I need to find reading material that isn’t so easy it’s boring and not so difficult it makes her frustrated.  Looking back  over the past year, I can see how well she was doing and how so much of that progress has stopped.  I need to revisit those earlier concepts and see if I can find material that will pick up where we left off.

59 responses to “Reading and Reading Comprehension

  1. Does she like picture books? Even though my daughter does love to read, she is so visually oriented she prefers graphic novels a good chunk of the time. I’m wondering if you might be able to get her more interested in reading by finding some age/material appropriate graphic novels or comic books. They make a lot of them these days. Our struggle is math and writing, no easy answers for sure!!

    • Thanks Kristin. My son loves graphic novels and this was how we got him engaged in early reading. He still loves them, but has now moved onto just novels. There are certainly a great many of them!

  2. Both children who are neurotypical and neuro”a-typical”, I’m sure, show a gap between actual comprehension levels and his/her ability to read aloud fluently. Often, even my most advanced reader show difficultly when reading aloud. It is a learned process that actually has to do with prosody and literal fluency rather than comprehension. It is practiced much less than silent reading, and therefore, I’m not sure it is a great indicator of what Emma understands.

    On the flip side, it seems that Em’s critical thinking (taxi plus plane equals “going to Aspen” indicates a very high level of comprehension, and more importantly- inferential thinking. She is going beyond the literal, which is a skill the national CCSS has documented as being a 4th grade standard. When a child personalizes a reading experience, this is a biggie.

    It could just be that, like so many other issues I have read about on Emma’s Hope Book, reading doesn’t have a big niche for Emma. I can understand how reading and then reporting back details, or reading out loud might seem pointless. From what I just read of today’s post, Emma’s
    comprehension seems good, even if her fluency is questionable.

    This all being said, I am in NO WAY a reading specialist for neuro- atypical children. But something about what I read made me think “Well, yeah. That makes total sense.”

    • Hey thanks so much for this. Really appreciate it. Yeah, so there’s no question that Em is understanding if not all, then most of the simpler texts she’s being given. The more difficult piece is finding stuff she can and will read that isn’t as simple and figuring out ways to make them meaningful while continuing to engage her. Your point about not seeing the point is such a good one, by the way!

  3. My aspie daughter was always a very fluent decoder and early reader but when comprehension started getting more complex around 3rd grade we worked with a speech/language pathologist who used the Lindamood-Bell Visualising and Verbalizing program specifically for reading comprehension, and that helped. This was ages ago (1998 ish) so I don’t know if that program is still around, still used or deemed useful etc.

    The comment above that reading may not have a “big niche” for Emma reminds me that if my daughter did not understand WHY she was being asked to do something (anything) it was extremely difficult to do it. We might assume that “everyone knows” why reading out loud is important (for assessment, for pleasure, whatever) and maybe you have explained that to Emma. But maybe, as the commenter above noted, it seems like a pointless activity? In which case there can be huge resistance–resistance that doesn’t make sense to us NTs, who despite our best efforts to challenge the paradigm usually have Compliance programmed into our systems.

    • Ann thank you for mentioning that program. I will be looking into it for my boy. That was very helpful info. Once we have had to go into more abstract thoughts it’s been harder to get the thoughts to paper. A process that yes is very speech and language related. Each step of language has to be learned individually and then put together as a whole. Do you know if you can access this program method on-line?

      • no clue if it’s online, since we didn’t do much online (besides email and fairly primitive websites) in the late 1990s. My recollection is that this L-B program (there are others) focused (in part) on helping put “parts into whole.” And since my girl was all about the details and had a lot of trouble with big picture (systemically) this helped.

        • Here’s the link I found. Haven’t spent much time on the site, but it looks like there’s a great deal of information here.

          • Thank you for finding this. I will look into this program. We did have something’s on the go to help us make it through his work but all of the posts here have helped me so much. This link will come in handy it does have some good info there. It’s funny you are in the process of working on this with Emma cause we have been working on reading and comprehension for awhile and were hitting a brick wall. As my son gets older the work changes and it gets harder to adapt what worked before with the new work. Luckily we have a great teacher working with him. She is very good at adjusting work. But thank you both for all the links. I will be looking into that book for visual learning strategies too. Also reading some of the posts made me think about how I read and do work. I often forget to look at what I do and see if it applies. When I read I often skim through stuff if I really want the words to have meaning I have to read it slowly. Sometimes if I’m not as interested I just want to get it done. I think he may do the same stuff. I will also try adjusting his reading to encyclopedia or magazines and see if he likes it. It has been a goal of his to read different texts.

      • You can also look into FastForword by Gemm Learning which is a speech therapy online program with fun games to encourage reading comp.

    • Thanks so much Ann. I’m going to look into the Lindamood-Bell program. I had not heard of it. I do think it very likely that Emma doesn’t see the point. Sometimes I don’t either… so yes more to consider and figure out how to make it more meaningful while also challenging.

  4. Hi ya Emma is so smart. Very clever girl indeed. Reading comprehension is a tough challenge that only progresses with time. I use to tell my son to draw a picture first before answering the question. It would look like a comic strip of the story by the end. But help him picture the whole story and all it’s parts. This stoped working for us when we got to more complicated work and longer books. Also when kids get older there’s less time to draw and map out your answers. Once we had to depend on using words to answer more complex questions it got harder for him. He can do it. It just takes time. I miss our picture drawing days though it’s how I got to understand how complex his thoughts were before he was able to express them in the more traditional way. I loved Emmas picture!

  5. You would think that as a literary geek, a bookish freak, I wouldn’t understand balking at books. As a sprog, I was an active dog . . . Why read when I learned so much from the doing of things. The way I read your amazing blogs is by phone while I’m walking . . . Gives me time to reflect, digest. I read little of written works in comparison to reading all of the marvellous stories that unfold before me. How does one read a river, the wind, traffic patterns, ecological changes, societal shifts . . . How does one interpret what one reads in all! Writing scholars stamp into the minds of future writers to show rather than tell. I think Emma shows much that she learns.

    I would bet that Emma would be delighted to read a letter from Chou Chou.

  6. Ariane, We also used Visualizing Verbalizing but later came to understand that it is more of an auditory program the way it was administered, than a visual program. As we discussed at the Autcom conference, please check out
    Although the clinic is in Portland Oregon, they do have several products available for sale and sometimes do presentations around the country.
    When my son was in 6th grade, we discovered (by paying for our own neuropsych exam) that he was decoding at 5th grade level, but comprehending at K/1 level. These children can learn to read if the person working with them truly understands how their cognition works. My son is 24 and still making great progress with reading comprehension, inferences, and connecting concepts.

    • Hi Lisa, thank you for the link. Yes, I remember you mentioned this to me at the conference. Thanks for the reminder. I’ll take a look.

    • Lisa that is a wonderful link. I have found that yes auditory is a major issue as we got to the older grades. Once we had speech and reading skills it appeared we still had many blocks to over come. We used his need and love of drawing to give the question more meaning or to add an element of fun to the task. But I also found that some how he relaxed into the task and actually concentrated more on his answers. I’m not sure but kind of like a sensory thing that inspired more out of him. But this link you have put up has sparked more questions in me on how to deal with my sons homework and how to boost his ability to process language.

  7. Ariane, I would second the above commenter on the Lindamood Bell method if you haven’t looked into it, I know they have NYC centers. it is a huge deal in our community (for those who can afford it, it’s not cheap) but it has really worked wonders for a lot of kids on the spectrum. we haven’t used it, because we are at the begininng of our academic journey, but I’ve gone to presentations and been very impressed and friends who have used it can’t praise it enough.

  8. forgive me if I missed something — what is the “correct” answer to the question, “where was he going?”

    Because Emma’s answer is both correct and expansive: she deduced that Peter was going to the airport (was that the correct answer?) THEN she expanded upon the PURPOSE of why anyone would go to the airport (to take a plane to get somewhere) and since the story provides no details, she pours information from her own life experience to add to the story (let’s get Peter to visit Grandma in Aspen.)

    I’m not getting the problem of reading comprehension unless this becomes a game of logical deduction and we ask Emma not to go further than the lowest denominator answer.

    • p.s. have you tried diagramming the story? I remember when I was taking tests or working with difficult texts, I would diagram the story a la flowchart with arrows showing sequence.

    • Right, so it’s clear Emma “gets” the example I gave. Even though the “correct” answer was – Peter was going to the airport – something that wasn’t shown or even spoken of in the story, Emma understood he went to the airport, obviously got on the airplane and then she guessed he might have flown to visit her Granma in Aspen. (Which I thought was fantastic!) So yes, it’s more than apparent that Emma understands the story. The ongoing issue we are facing is in reading more complicated stories. So there’s finding suitable material that isn’t too difficult or too easy and then there’s figuring out how to discuss whether that’s by drawing, diagramming as you’ve suggested (I like that idea, by the way) or through some other form of written or verbal communication. The other piece of this is – I am questioning the wisdom in having her read “aloud” yet if she doesn’t how will we teach her new words that she doesn’t know or if there even are words she doesn’t know? Is this important? I don’t know the answer.
      What I do know is that she was making tremendous progress and now is not, since we stopped working with the person whose literacy program we began two years ago. There are a couple of reasons for this, the biggest being a fundamental disagreement in behavioral philosophies and the cost associated with this person making the first more important point moot.

      • What Jane is saying about the diagrams that’s what I’m talking about. Just with pictures and no words/ little words. I am happy about your topic today because it’s something we are working on right now. I also find that my child reads in his mind better than at full volume voice. But when he reads at full volume you can hear what is being mispronounced speech wise. It bugs him cause he often knows what the word means but saying it out loud is harder. If fustrasion sets in then he’s not interested anymore. That’s why drawing helped. But in higher grades there is just no time. Thanks again for picking such important topics everyday.

        • I must admit I was surprised to see that this topic has generated as much discussion as it has. I’m glad you and others have wanted to talk about it. One of the things we were doing a year ago was keeping the reading and writing silent and then doing a different set of exercises for speech. You’ve reminded me that we were doing that to good effect, so thank you for the reminder!

      • Honestly I can’t read “out loud” and understand the story better — and I am an “NT” reader, scoring higher on verbal portions of standardized tests than math. I’ve found that often when I’m reading out loud, the exercise for me is more enunciation and articulation and not comprehension. Reading out loud interferes with my ability to comprehend, as if the neuronal processes used to comprehend has been channeled to read out loud.

        In order for me to comprehend something difficult, I need silence and lack of distraction, and I need to diagram out the ideas between sentences. This was the only way I could get through the beginnings of Rudolf Steiner’s Philosophy of Freedom, which was incredibly difficult for me to understand.

        • Yeah, I’m the same. Reading out loud makes comprehension much more difficult if it’s possible at all!

          • this is also one of the reasons why I don’t think “phonics” approach works with my child; he gets the word faster by memorization and association with a picture than “what sound does f make? fuh fuh fuh” — not to mention — some children struggle with audio processing and now we’ve introduced an additional roadblock to them acquiring the skill we want them to acquire.

            • Agree. Phonics was a disaster and huge waste of time for Emma.

            • Hi again. I believe all in what you are saying. It’s true to my own abilities to read as well. I didn’t really teach my son to read at all. I believe he could read before he could talk. He may have learned many words from his pecs cards but he could read words that were in print without pictures. We went backwards with speech. we went read it. Now say it. Now understand what it means. We only used phonics to understand how something was pronounced. If the word is learned wrong then it’s said wrong for a long time. So that’s why reading out loud was done. I saw two books from the links up above with books for the visual learner. Do you have any other tips for diagrams or mapping what you read? He could use a quick way of doing it.

  9. How much of Emma’s reading is reading aloud? I know that as a kid I hated reading aloud because it required so much more effort and because I was very self-conscious about how I sounded. Verbalizing the words I’m reading takes my concentration away from the meaning of the text, even as an adult. If you asked me today to read something aloud to you and then asked me questions about the meaning of what I’d read, I would really struggle with that.

    I also do very poorly at reading comprehension questions, even though I’m an avid reader and grasp the general meaning of what I read quite well. Reading comprehension questions always feel “tricky” to me, like they’re meant to induce failure, especially if I’m given multiple choice options. I’d much rather be asked to paraphrase something I’ve read as a way of demonstrating that I understood the meaning.

    • I’m the same, actually. The minute I feel I’m being “tested” I lose all ability to formulate a coherent sentence let alone answer the question being asked. I typically do very badly on tests, always have, unless I’ve done a tremendous amount of studying, even on subjects I know well. I also cannot read aloud and then answer questions about what I’ve just read without rereading silently.
      I know reading aloud is stressful for Emma and yet it seems to be the preferred method of reading at school. I have written her teacher (who has been wonderfully creative and enthusiastic about trying to come up with new strategies) I’ve sent her the links and other suggestions left here… I’m hoping we’ll be able to figure something out!

  10. I found when doing respite care with a child who struggled both with reading and writing and comprehension is having her do it in a context where she was motivated to do it helped a lot. She is 27 now so when it was an issue the whole internet was a bit more primitive.

    Unlike me she is very social. In fact she would constantly tease me about it so she enjoyed talking to people. I don’t mind online. So at the time I had a channel for kids on the spectrum siblings (and eventually we expanded that to child relatives as some had parents on the spectrum). i let her chat only supervised at first and then with the understanding that I would be reading the logs and if she ever said anything she shouldn’t that would be it.

    Eventually she discovered when she was at a townhall meeting with me that there was a channel for cross-stitching and she wanted to chat there so I talked to the channel owner who I knew and let her spread her wings a bit. She had struggled for years to get any sort of typing speed up and hated to read but she would sit and read and write for long periods of time in the chat context.

    Games can also serve that purpose. I administrate the children’s MMORPG (there is a North American version too but they have less in game oversight so I feel ours is a bit safer for vulnerable kids) If the parent lets them kids can have open chat or use a chat window, they have to read to quest and there is some math involved in the battles and picking of equipment. The kids thankfully don’t realize the nefarious plan to make them do these things in their free time. A lot of parents play with their kids as a family thing and the other day while I was playing a game where the kids had to find me a father commented when he was away on business he liked to meet up with his kids there.

    Any online activity has to of course be approached with extreme caution but if anyone was interested in trying that I would be more than happy to help.

    I found a big part of the problem is that the exercises and drills for reading rarely are things the child is actually interested in. Who really wants to read a confusing story about someone’s strange trip to an airport anyway?

    I used to custom make school work for all three of my charges in the summer because all kids lose a bit of ground in the summer but the one with significant disabilities couldn’t afford that at all. So I would base the subjects on things that interested them. The years pokemon were hot they could be worked into a surprising amount of things and so on.

    Similar issues exist with OT as they often have a one solution fits all mentality. The most recent rugrat I have been associating with is supposed to do something to work on fine motor skills that bores and frustrates him. There were lots of other activities that would have worked the same problem area and would have been something the child actually wanted to do.

    When we are no longer children we use those skills in the way we choose for the most part so it only makes sense to me that the child’s interests guide the development of those subjects more than they normally do even if it means extra work in the preparation – it does pay off.

    • Gareeth,
      Thank you so much for sharing this with me. I think this could be hugely beneficial to Em. I am going to think about it more. I think the immediacy of the “chat” is a good motivator because unlike a letter or an email that you send, then wait, you get an immediate reply as though the person were in the same room with you.

  11. Stephen my 11 was half reading this post over my shoulder, when I got to the picture he said “How could she write so neatly? She must be in year 12”. Almost a teacher, reading strategies are very important to me, love to read about any new ideas you find. At Stephens reading level they only assess for comprehension, Which is definitely the harder part of reading. Youngest is very resistant to reading…. we play lots of games but still a tricky business.

    • Hannah, thank you for telling me this. Someone said to me a few weeks ago, “she’s resistant? There must be something very wrong!” I lost some hours of sleep over that one… It’s been very helpful seeing what others are recommending.

      Stephen – Em is 10 years old, but has only been writing for the last year or so.

      • Lots of kids fight secondary language acquisition. For my man who perfected non-verbal communication till the age of 4, he fights because it’s relevance doesn’t make much sense, and it’s hard and boring. Stephen will be super impressed when he finds out that Emma has only been writing for a year!

  12. So I’m doing something I don’t usually do, and commenting without reading all 32 comments first. But that being said, here’s my experience with reading and reading comprehension…

    When I was in 2nd grade, I read Lord of the Rings. I loved it. I understood the story, could get lost in a book in a moment’s notice. I was a very advanced reader. But I couldn’t read aloud to save my life. We would do this thing in reading groups where we’d each read a sentence aloud or a paragraph, and rotate around the table until the story was done. Reading aloud was horrible for me, because it went much too slow. I would be so bored that I’d take off and read the whole rest of the story while the other 4-5 students struggled to read their sentences aloud, then when it was my turn again, I’d have no idea where we were. Plus, my speech skills couldn’t keep up with my reading skills, and I’d often miss whole words and lines when reading aloud. It was miserable. I have always had the unique ability of being able to open a book (novel) I’d put down months prior and within a sentence or two, be right back in the story. My mind would completely paint a picture, and it is almost like I’m living within the world of the story. I understand what I’m reading. Enjoy what I’m reading, LOVE what I’m reading. But I don’t process books (especially fiction books) as words. It’s like my brain takes the foreign words and translates them into my own language, the one I understand implicitly, without any trouble. Yet ask me specifics about what happened or why, and I’m lost. I can’t recall that information, especially if the question uses a different sentence than what is in the text. I could tell people about it in my own words, but answering questions was always a challenge

    It was always a mystery to my teachers how I could so easily read books meant for people more than twice my age, but how I couldn’t read aloud or pass basic reading comprehension exams. But I couldn’t. I got a perfect 800 on my math SAT, but a 680 in verbal “reading comprehension”. On our state exams, from the first time I took them to now, I scored perfect math, and anywhere from “remedial” to “just above average” in the reading comprehension. I didn’t get it – I’m a good reader, I love reading. Obviously, there’s a disconnect. By the time I was in high school, I had mostly figured out how I can make the reading comprehension questions “work” at least somewhat for me, and what follows is MY solution.

    I survived “reading comprehension” by reading and thinking about the questions FIRST, before reading the text. Why? Because then I knew exactly what I had to look for in the text. I could then read, looking for the keywords I knew would be relevant, and answer the questions as they came up. I hated doing this, because it meant that I was missing most of the point of the text. I could understand a sentence, maybe two at a time, tops. I would be able to process almost nothing. Yet I could answer most (but not all) of the questions.

    I could tell you about it in my own words, but the instant you ask me in YOUR words, I’m lost. And that’s what reading comprehension questions are.

    • E. what you say here is very similar to what Ibby has tried to explain to me many times. It is incredible to see how different the process is. That you managed to figure out a “work around” as Ibby would say in reading the questions first so that you could then answer them, but would also have to sacrifice so much of the meaning in order to do so, strikes me as representative of so much about Autistic vs NT culture. I have a great deal to think about. Thank you so much for sharing this. I really appreciate it!

  13. Interesting. Emma reminds me of myself in lots of ways. Her mind moves faster than she can keep up with sometimes. That really is not a bad thing at all. It seems like a sign of high intelligence to me, but her teachers probably don’t see it that way, and neither did mine. Reading was always hard for me too. I have always been a very slow reader. There are a million distractions. The second I would comprehend one sentence, it would automatically be connected to ten other ideas in my mind, memories, associations and then my thoughts would drift off to daydreaming about those things instead of the rest of what I had started reading. After reading 5 sentences, 50 different ideas flooded my mind and I couldn’t keep up with them all. It becomes overwhelming. Emma associates airports with going to Aspen. That’s what she takes from the story that she can relate to in her own life. So she filled in some blanks and disregarded the parts of the story she couldn’t connect with. She gets it.

    I’m certainly not a teacher or anything, but I can make a suggestion that may or may not help. Try having her read short things that are not fiction. If she is really interested in some topic, give her something short to read on that topic. Also (and this might sound odd), but does she ever read and understand street signs or anything like that? Have you ever asked her to help you navigate around the city, or through the airport or something? That way she could read short bits of information and feel like there is a valid reason for her to pay attention and expend her mental energy on it. I just wonder if reading about some boy named Peter who doesn’t even exist seems pretty pointless to her.

    Back in the day (you probably remember it too) when encyclopedias were a collection of big heavy books that people bought, my parents got a set of World Book encyclopedias. I used to pick a different book from the set each night and take it to bed with me when I was only about 10 and it was such cool stuff to read. My parents never encouraged me to read those encyclopedias, it was something I started doing on my own and they were very surprised. I loved it. Hundreds of different topics in one book, and each article was short enough for me to read through, and they had pictures so I could also visualize what I was reading about. But if you gave me a fiction novel at that age, I would not have been able to get through the first few pages of it. I don’t know Emma obviously, and I have no idea what (if anything) will make her more interested in reading, but you might try something that she can relate to better than some kid named Peter who she’ll never meet. She has no reason to care where Peter is going. She doesn’t even know him.

    Just my $0.02.

    • AspieKid, thank you so much for your two cents! I used to love those volumes of the encyclopedia too! I kind of love that Emma reminds you of yourself. It makes me happy whenever you say that as I see you as someone I value and am so grateful to know.

  14. For my own part I don’t remember not knowing how to read so all my knowledge of how to help others learn.

    I did the same thing Aspiekid. We had been given a set of Young People’s Encylopedia’s that my cousins had outgrown. I was busily preparing for my life in outerspace as a doctor so for that set I focused on medicine first. (Acne to xray) Later on when I was frequently exiled to the library I would read the better encyclopedias there. I do enjoy fiction though. I always find it a bit weird that I goof up over and over again in knowing if something is literal or not in real life but only have problems with the more extreme novels (I cannot do South American authors and I ran out of patience for Life of Pi pretty fast. That one was harder since everyone was saying how good it was and it just annoyed the heck out of me since Martel had shown he could write well and I wished he would just have carried on like the first 40 pages or so,)

    Of course since now the books everyone are raving about are so ridiculously horrible I don’t even have to pretend to be interested. That’s one of the few redeeming qualities of adulthood. Other people’s preferences are not getting forced on you.

  15. My reluctant readers like the Guiness Book of World Records, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, Strange but True and any fact book with great pictures and typography. These big color books are a bridge to other reading and a social experience with reading–they are fun to gather around and she can point at the pictures and comment on them. My Aspie son likes text with lots of exclamation points like Bad Kitty. I’m a k-8 school librarian. I think these titles would be at her age, but fun to read. A page I like on Facebook to read with kids is Rocky Ridge Refuge, it is an animal rescue site. Easy to talk and read about this page. Some sad pictures but I tell my students that any animal that makes it there is loved and cared for. I like to use Facebook to make feeds for Brady to read on topics that interest him. I subscribe to Karla’s idea that all progress is possible within the special interest. In Brady’s case that is animals and outer space.

  16. Hi Ariane, I read this with interest as a school librarian and a mom of a 7 year old Aspie. Some suggestions for Emma. The Bad Kitty books (Bad Kitty meets Uncle Murray). Brady loves to read these because of the exclamation points and punctuation. The humor is great. Very popular book with all my students. All my students also love the Guiness Book of World Records, Ripley’s Believe it or not, Ultimate Weird but True ( and any of the small yellow bordered volumes that are companions to that series. I made a facebook feed for Brady and I populated it with favorite pages for him to scroll through, read and comment. They are Rocky Ridge Refuge (brilliant page!!!), Aurora Borealis (facebook page to subscribe too) and many more. They are on my Facebook wall as “brady’s tribe” interests feed and you can subscribe to it too. Great thread. I learned so much!

  17. Can you send me your facebook page link or friend me so that I can find you? That would be terrific. Thank you so much for these terrific suggestions. I really appreciate them!

  18. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Carly Fleishmann (she’s in my area of Ontario).
    She is non-verbal and is in gifted classes in high-school. She has a Facebook page and you could ask her about reading. Maybe you have read her and her father’s book?

  19. The autistic brain sees and understands things that the NT brain doesn’t. We think they aren’t “getting it”, but perhaps we just aren’t getting them. Our brains don’t work the same. We don’t communicate in the same way. How often do they wish our brains would work like theirs? How often do they think WE are “lacking”? How often do they wonder why we don’t “get” what they get? Never underestimate the autistic brain.

  20. my younger brother didn’t like reading as a youngster . . . Only did it because he had to. Then part way through high school he discovered tractor workshop manuals…. They made sense and were interesting to him…. He’s now a highly qualified tractor mechanic!!

    Once zack had started learning words by sight, a year or so later phonics started to make sense to him, learned that very quickly and loves reading and spelling at school, as long as it is a sensible story…. Fairies etc don’t make a lot of sense to him. A boy and his pet dog going out for the day does.

    Hope you find what works soon.

  21. Hi Carol, your brother’s experience sounds so similar to many others I have recently been told about.
    Zack’s interests also sound in keeping with Emma’s!

  22. Pingback: Autism, Reading Comprehension, and my experience with reading « The Third Glance

  23. Just wanted to say I LOVE AspieKid’s point that “She has no reason to care where Peter is going. She doesn’t even know him.” Makes perfect sense!

    And I agree that interest level is everything in learning, and especially in reading. I was home schooled for a good part of primary school and I think I learned much better for it. Mostly because I was able to follow my interests and gain skills rather than specific content (e.g. writing an essay on a topic you choose still helps you gain essay-writing skills). Not entirely sure how to apply that to Emma’s reading but hopefully every idea helps.

  24. Pingback: Reading and Reading Comprehension « English Language Teaching/Learning (EFL)

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