Some children with SEN, in particular some children with Autism, may appear to be excellent readers. Often they are observed reading pages and pages of difficult text at a great rate and pronouncing familiar and unfamiliar words correctly. The teacher and parents, unsurprisingly may ‘tick’ off this developmental milestone and concentrate on the other areas of school work that the child appears to struggle on more.
However, often if you look deeper and observe the child more. Yes they can read words beautifully and have a talent that should be praised. But often they are reading as a process not reading for meaning. Ask the child what the book was about, who the main character was and you may find they are unable to answer.
Why is this? Reading words is a very different activity to understanding a text.
So here lies the problem, how do you help a child to read for meaning and to be able to answer comprehension questions?
There are a number of ways, here are a few:
- Ask questions throughout the book, not at the very end- so you are not expecting them to remember quite as much.
- Use multiple choice answers to help prompt.
- Read books with pictures so you are able to prompt using the pictures of the characters etc.