How to improve your ability to understand the text you have read?
Strategies for ASD, parents and teachers to overcome reading difficulties
Many people can read, but after reading it is difficult for them to remember exactly what they read. There may be several reasons for that. It is possible that a person puts so much effort into voicing words (out loud or about themselves) that they lose their meaning. In other cases the subject is so uninteresting that it is difficult to focus on the information in the text. Many children and adults with autism spectrum disorders have serious difficulty understanding what is read, even if they have no problem reading as such. This can make it very difficult to study in school even for children without intellectual disabilities, especially in secondary school when reading and comprehension requirements increase significantly and texts become more complex. Below are strategies to improve understanding of text that can be used by adults with autism spectrum disorders, as well as parents and teachers of children with PAM.
Metacognition – thinking about how we think – is the basis for improved comprehension during reading. In other words, to improve our understanding of the text, we must consciously stop while reading and analyze our opinions, perceptions and thoughts related to what we have read. For example:
- Define a goal for your upcoming reading. Think about what you should find in the text during the reading.
- Look at the title of the text and try to understand what the text might be about.
- Look at the headings and subtitles, the words in bold, and the illustrations. Think about what this text might be about.
- Try to remember what you already know about the subject, the author or the story.
During the reading
- Think about what you read after each paragraph or chapter.
- Think about whether you agree with the ideas, characters or facts.
- If you don’t understand the meaning of any sentences or paragraphs, write down what you don’t understand.
- Write down words you don’t know to find meaning after reading them.
- Think about what you learned during the reading.
- Think of your questions for the author.
- Think about how the read is related to your own life.
- Formulate a brief retelling of what you read.
- Browse your notes and try to find answers to your questions by reading them again, searching the Internet, or talking to another person.
Talk about what you read
Discussing what has been read with another person provides another source of information rather than rereading the text. This is especially useful if you don’t really like to read. Talking about what you’ve read will allow you to ask questions, allow you to learn more about other people’s point of view, and give you the opportunity to express in words what you’ve read, which will help you better remember and understand the text.
Practice reading as often as you can
The best way to improve understanding during reading is to read as much as possible. It does not matter what a person reads. The more you read, the better your comprehension skills will be. Here is the “Matthew effect,” when “the one who has will be given and multiplied, and the one who does not have what he has will be taken away from him. Pupils who like to read read a lot and often, and their reading skills are improved. Those who do not enjoy reading, spend little time with it, as a result, their skills are lagging behind their peers more and more. That’s why our primary goal is to motivate children to read. If they like to read comics, articles about sports or online magazines, encourage them to do so as often as possible.
As often as possible, take children to the library and let them watch any book they want. Do not try to impose on children what you think they should read. We want them to read as much as possible. And that’s it. If they liked a book by some author, then find all the books by that author so that they can choose something. If children are interested in a topic, then find the reading material according to their interest.
Motivation for reading
How to improve your reading ability the first task for the unmotivated reader is to search for reading material that is directly related to what he is interested in outside the reading. For example, if a child likes to watch movies, he may like to read reviews of films on the Internet or in magazines about cinema. You may think that this is not a “real” reading, but it is not. Many people think that you can only develop reading skills with books. In fact, it is not necessary at all, especially in our Internet age.
Moreover, if children will often read about what they are interested in, it will help them to become better readers in general, especially if in parallel they will practice the skills of understanding the text. Once the motivation for reading starts to form, you can start practicing reading less interesting materials. In this case, if strategies to improve understanding have already been practiced on interesting texts, they will be easier to use while reading on boring topics.
Availability of books for reading
If your reading skills are too low, use books on topics interesting to the student, but with very low reading requirements. As a rule, there are many illustrations and little text. They can be children’s encyclopedias and reference books. They allow you to motivate the reader, their topics are age-appropriate, and reading is not too complicated.
You should also pay attention to the following books:
- Books with many pictures and illustrations, which will make understanding much easier.
- Books with sufficiently large letters.
- Books with a small amount of text on one page, so that the amount of text on the page does not cause stress.
- Books that have titles, subheadings, clear definitions of words in the glossary. Such books are the easiest to understand.
The link between reading and writing
You may wonder why you have to write something down while working on understanding what you’ve read so often. The reason is that this is another way to better understand and absorb the material you have read. For example, if it is difficult for someone to speak orally about what has been read, then keeping a diary, blog, or chart can help to analyze what has been read and update the information in memory, but without a verbal dialogue.
The goal of any reading is to understand the text, so it is hoped that these strategies and ideas will allow you to improve your reader’s skills or help your child or student achieve this goal. Remember that reading is a very complex individual process, and its development must necessarily be reflected in an individual educational program.