Reading comprehension for special needs

Reading comprehension for special needs is a modified way of reading to accommodate the specific needs of a child who may suffer from a language impairment. In conjunction with an audiologist, occupational therapist, and special education teachers, a team of caregivers can coordinate special reading comprehension assistance based on a child's particular special needs.


Reading is the process of retrieving and comprehending some form of stored information or ideas. Reading to young children is a recommended way to instill language, expression, and to promote comprehension of text.

Language impairments

A language impairment is a learning disorder characterized by an impairment in the comprehension and use of oral and/or written language. Which significantly interferes with communication and academic achievement while a speech impairment is an impairment in speech production which significantly interferes with the student's communication and learning (e.g., articulation, and/or phonological, disorder, apraxia, dysfluency/stuttering, dysarthria, voice and resonance. However, speech and language impairments can also occur independently.

Accommodations and modifications

In order to complement a child's learning experience, caregivers can modify their reading technique in ways that may promote learning. These are things that one should be aware of when facilitating reading comprehension for children with special needs:

  • "finger following" - reading by pointing to the word and reading it aloud.
  • The "talk aloud" method - readers are asked to "think aloud" as they read, to determine what inferences they are drawing from a text.
  • Break up long sentences.
  • Reduce difficult vocabulary load.
  • Reduce concept density.
  • When using a pronoun be sure that the antecedent is very clear.
  • Do not omit words such as: "that" where such words will clarify a sentence connection.
  • Stay with simple co-ordinating conjunctions (e.g., but, so, for, and) and avoid less common transitional words (e.g., however, as a consequence, nevertheless, although).
  • Keep cause-and-effect expressions in a very simple in form.
  • Keep conditional expressions which influence the meaning of a statement to a minimum (such as; if, when, assuming that, suppose, provided that, etc.). If there is no other way to avoid using a difficult word, include a brief explanation in parentheses, however keep parenthetical explanations to a minimum.
  • If an important basic or technical word is to be taught: Make meaning and application absolutely clear.
  • Use context as a memory aid.
  • For a new term, repeat the word numerous times in a variety of contexts.
  • Passive voice verbs. Negative forms of verbs and other expressions of negation.
  • Too many modifying forms, such as prepositional phrases, relative clauses. (If a relative clause must be used, the relative pronoun [who, which, that, where, etc.] should be next to the word to which it refers). *Stylistic embellishments, such as rhetorical inversions.
  • Colloquial and idiomatic expressions. Cut wordiness while retaining simple English. Avoid the use of idioms.

External links

* Special Reads for Special Needs, unique reading materials designed for children and young adults with Down's Syndrome, ADD, ADHD, FAS and other disabilities, for quick and effective development of reading skills.

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