Making Inferences From Text: It's Vocabulary That Matters

Rebecca Lucas, Courtenay Norbury

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Purpose: Many children with communication disorders have reading comprehension difficulties, and in order to target interventions effectively it is important to identify which specific components of comprehension are especially challenging. The current study explored the relationship between text inferencing skill, autistic symptomatology and language phenotype.

Method: Typically developing children (n=32), children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and age-appropriate structural language skills (ALN; n=27), children with ASD and language impairment (n=15) and non-autistic children with language impairment (n=12) were administered the Neale Analysis of Reading Ability and responses to literal and inferential questions were analyzed.

Results: For the sample as a whole, inferencing competence was predicted by oral language skill, with autistic symptomatology not contributing significant variance. However, whilst only 12.5% of typically developing children found answering inferential questions disproportionally challenging relative to answering literal questions, one third of children with ALN demonstrated inferencing deficits, as did over 50% of children with language impairments, regardless of ASD status.

Conclusion: These results indicate that children with language impairments are most likely to find inferencing challenging, but practitioners will also need to monitor the inferencing skills of children with ASD and good language and single word reading skills.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1224-1232
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2015

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