Graphic Organizers and Reading Comprehension

March 23, 2024

Research has shown that children with Autism have difficulties with reading comprehension. It is difficult for them to answer literal comprehension questions such as “Where did the character go?, What did the character do?”. Not only is it difficult for children with ASD but also children with Developmental Language Delay (DLD) therefore as a Speech Language Pathologist it is important to have research-based strategies that help these children succeed. 

In the research article “Effects of WH-Question Graphic Organizer on Reading Comprehension Skills of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders” by Keri S. Bethune & Charles L. Wood, they researched how a graphic organizer can help increase reading comprehension skills. They collected a baseline which consisted of providing the graphic organizer and a word bank of which the students had to sort the words into each category: Who, Where, What, and What doing? Then they read a short passage and answered 8 WH questions of which they used the graphic organizer to help answer. Then the researchers provided intervention using the graphic organizer and a prompt hierarchy and administered another short story and 8 questions. Results showed that each student was able to answer more questions correctly with the graphic organizer and intervention and show generalization in their studies. 

Graphic organizers are very beneficial for many students not only with Autism. This study showed a way for not only clinicians but a way for parents and teachers to help increase the reading comprehension skills of their children and students. Below is an example of a graphic organizer that can be utilized while working on reading comprehension and WH questions. 

Example of Implementation: 

  • Provide a word bank
  • Use a prompt hierarchy (least to most: independent, verbal, gesture, and physical)
  • Complete the graphic organizer
  • Read the passage
  • Highlight key terms and re-read the passage
  • Ask WH-questions

Bethune, Keri S. & Wood, Charles L. “Effects of WH-Question Graphic Organizers on Reading Comprehension Skills of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder.” Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, vol. 48, no. 2, 2013, pp.236-244.

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