Background: This study examined the reading performance of a nationally representative sample of 110 children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Method: The sample was divided into two groups by age; 3:10–5:10 years (Group 1) and 6:00–17:3 years (Group 2). Core reading components were assessed across both groups, which included: word reading, comprehension, phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, reading rate, vocabulary, accuracy and non-word reading.
Results: The data demonstrated impaired reading skills across reading components in both groups, with the exception of word reading pre-requisites for Group 1 and reading rate for Group 2. An analysis of the full sample found that many participants performed within the lowest possible range on standardized tests (standard score ≤55) in particular, comprehension (82%) and phonemic awareness (62%). Language abilities and autism symptomatology severity were assessed for relationships with reading outcomes. The largest relationships were in autism se- verity and vocabulary and multiple regression analyses indicated that autism severity was pre- dictive of language scores suggesting that individuals presenting with more severe symptoms of autism demonstrated the most reading deficits.
Conclusion: These findings highlight the severe reading deficits present in this population and the need for reading assessments as well as the design of highly individualized reading interventions.