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ERIC Number: ED577980
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 205
Abstractor: As Provided
ISBN: 978-0-3553-1540-0
Reading for Meaning: Reading Comprehension Skills in ASD and the Role of Oral Language, Central Coherence, and Executive Function
Davidson, Meghan M.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, The University of Wisconsin - Madison
Reading comprehension is a complex interactional process whereby the accumulated meaning of sounds, words, and sentences is integrated to form a meaningful representation of text. It is well established that many individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have reading comprehension difficulties, but less is understood about the underlying processes contributing to these deficits. The weak central coherence theory is a long-standing explanation, but more recently, oral language and executive functions are argued to explain poor reading comprehension in ASD. The goals of this project were: (1) to assess several aspects of reading comprehension and (2) to evaluate possible predictors (oral language, central coherence, and executive function) of reading comprehension in ASD. Participants with ASD (n = 21) between 8- and 14-years were compared to typically developing (TD; n = 21) peers matched on age, socioeconomic status, oral language, and word reading abilities across three studies. Study 1 examined participants' context integration while reading using both button-press and eye-tracking measures. Button-press results indicated that participants with ASD had poor sentence comprehension, but this was not explained by poor integration as predicted by the weak central coherence account or poor semantic knowledge as predicted by the oral language account. Eye tracking results showed increased looks back to the context (i.e., regressions), indicating general comprehension difficulties for the ASD group. Study 2 used a novel comprehension monitoring approach to assess story comprehension across visual, listening, and written modalities. Results demonstrated that the ASD group had poor story comprehension across all three modalities. Again, this was not explained by weak central coherence or poor oral language. Study 3 assessed the inter-relationships and contributions of word reading, central coherence, executive function, and oral language to reading comprehension, and found that all components were highly related in the ASD group. Word reading was a highly significant predictor, and after accounting for word reading, oral language was the only additional significant predictor of reading comprehension in ASD. Together, these three studies suggest complex inter-relationships between reading comprehension, word reading, central coherence, executive function, and oral language that should be further evaluated in future studies with larger samples. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Institutes of Health (DHHS); National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD); Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) (NIH)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: R01DC011750|P30HD03352