September 25, 2017

Child Speech Therapy: Reading Comprehension

U.S Department of Education

Beginning of upper elementary and middle school, the emphasis of reading shifts from fluency and pronunciation to reading comprehension. Children are expected to read a text fluently while interpreting and inferring the message. For some children, comprehension of the text may be challenging often times resulting in academic problems at school. In many cases, reading comprehension deficits may go unnoticed until Middle school or high school so it is important to be aware of causes, signs, and therapeutic treatment.

Steps of an efficient reader:

1.-  Read and decodes meaning of words on the page.

2.-  Keep passage information in working memory long enough to process. *Working memory is the place new information is briefly stored prior to being transferred to executive function.

3.-  Organize and interpret the written message stored in working memory utilizing adequate vocabulary, grammatical and syntactical skills.

4.-  Access higher order thinking skills to process written message and infer possible meaning.

**If breakdown occurs in one or more steps, the child may fail to fully understand and interpret the message.

Where does the breakdown usually occur?

In most cases, reading comprehension difficulties may result from poor reading fluency or weak language skills. If a child struggles with the ability to pronounce and decode the words in a given passage (step #1), then the remainder of the steps may be impacted leading to poor comprehension. For some children, they may read the passage perfectly, but lack the appropriate language skills to interpret and comprehend the material. Unfortunately the latter often goes unnoticed due to adequate oral reading in the classroom. Children with reading comprehension deficits may have good decoding and spelling skills but the breakdown occurs when they need to analyze and sort through multiple layers of text meaning. Poor reading comprehension due to language weakness is often unrecognizable until the reading material becomes more complex with advanced syntactical and grammatical structures. Therefore, children with poor reading comprehension may not qualify for services until it affects their academic grades.

Poor reading comprehension may result in a number of academic consequences, including:

  • Reduced interest in reading resulting in slow vocabulary growth.
  • Oral and written language skills may be impacted due to poor vocabulary.
  • Homework will take longer due to poor comprehension.
  • Grades may not reflect the child’s academic efforts at home.
  • Low self-esteem may result from constantly being told they are not trying enough or are unmotivated.

Therapeutic Intervention:

A speech language pathologist is able to assess and identify a reading comprehension deficit based on either poor reading fluency or weak language skills. Skilled language therapy will focus on higher-level language skills such as figurative language, inferencing, predicting, understanding ambiguous language, and multiple meaning words, using contextual cues, and support for advanced vocabulary development.

Contact Lumiere Children’s therapy for a reading evaluation in order to create an individualize treatment plan for your child!



Reading Comprehension. (n.d.). Retrieved September 03, 2017, from https://lowrystot.com/reading-comprehension-difficulties/


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