Making Inferences From Text: It's Vocabulary That Matters 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 ... Research Article
Research Article  |   August 2015
Making Inferences From Text: It's Vocabulary That Matters
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Rebecca Lucas
    Royal Holloway University of London, United Kingdom
  • Courtenay Frazier Norbury
    Royal Holloway University of London, United Kingdom
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Rebecca Lucas: rebecca.lucas@rhul.ac.uk
  • Editor: Rhea Paul
    Editor: Rhea Paul×
  • Associate Editor: Rhea Paul
    Associate Editor: Rhea Paul×
  • Copyright © 2015 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Article Information
Development / Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Language Disorders / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   August 2015
Making Inferences From Text: It's Vocabulary That Matters
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2015, Vol. 58, 1224-1232. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-L-14-0330
History: Received November 25, 2014 , Revised March 11, 2015 , Accepted April 25, 2015
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2015, Vol. 58, 1224-1232. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-L-14-0330
History: Received November 25, 2014; Revised March 11, 2015; Accepted April 25, 2015

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 (n = 27), children with ASD and language impairment (n = 15), and nonautistic children with language impairment (n = 12) were administered the Neale Analysis of Reading Ability–Revised (Neale, 1997), 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, although only 12.5% of typically developing children found answering inferential questions disproportionally challenging relative to answering literal questions, one third of children with age-appropriate structural language skills 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.

Acknowledgments
This research was funded by a Reid Scholarship from Royal Holloway University of London. We would like to thank all of the children who took part in this study, as well as their parents and schools; this research would not have been possible without you.
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