Reading Comprehension Research

As a new SLP in the schools, one thing I feel inadequately prepared for is the reading comprehension difficulties I see in children with language disorders, as well as Autism spectrum disorders (ASD). I found this article which looked at 3 case studies for children with ASD.  The study discussed the application of reading comprehension techniques.

I love research, even (especially) case-studies, that gives clinical methods I can turn around and use tomorrow. This is that kind of article that makes me happy. The author brings up excellent strategies that could be further investigated with my own clients. She chose the strategies based off other studies done in the past that show deficits in children with ASD then suggest one or two strategies. She has combined the research for literacy strategies and offers explanations on how to implement using the anonymous case-study individuals.

research tuesday

The strategies for increasing reading comprehension and higher order thinking skills were priming background knowledge, picture walks, visual maps, think-alouds and reciprocal thinking, understanding narrative text structure, goal structure mapping, emotional thermometers, and social stories.


Priming background knowledge helps students focus on a reading while connecting to the text. Picture walks help children with ASD develop positive expectations about what could happen during the story, and satisfy their tendency to be visual learners. Visual maps are useful for books that do not include pictures; students fill in bubbles to certain aspects of the story as it is read. Think-alouds are another model to organize text, and help children with ASD focus their attention to more than one detail. Understanding narrative text structure focuses on identifying the main character then elaborating on who-did-what sequencing. Goal structure mapping helps students identify how one character can influence actions of other characters. Emotional thermometers help students describe the feelings perceived by characters in the book; the thermometer is color coded and progresses from one emotion to the next, along a continuum. Social stories help students understand the text, increase theory of mind abilities, and applying what they read to real life situations.


Gately, S. (2008). Facilitating reading comprehension for students on the autism spectrum. Teaching Exceptional Children, 40(3), 40-45.

2 thoughts on “Reading Comprehension Research

  1. kelley

    Hi. I’ve been rethinking SLP. At 52, living in the Caribbean, and unable to get any SL exposure or experience, plus my recent “F” in A&P of Audiology (gpa now 3.1), I’m having doubts. I’d finish everything at 55 or 56 if I were lucky enough to get into a grad program after finishing the leveling courses. Do you know of anyone entering the field in their senior years?

    1. Kelley, there was a gentleman in my cohort who was in his 40s. So, it’s a possibility. You aren’t disclosing your age on your resume, so not every university will know that up front. But from convos with other individuals like yourself, if universities do know your age, I would imagine they think about longevity in the field in addition to your passion. I hate that that’s the case because no matter age, everyone has passions and interests. I hope you find a program 🙂

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