New study shows kids with autism can improve their reading comprehension

You child with Autism may find reading frustrating. But that can change.
You child with Autism may find reading frustrating. But that can change. Photo: Getty

Autistic kids are biologically disadvantaged when it comes to reading comprehension. But thanks to a new study, we now know they can catch up.

Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have found that specialised, intense reading intervention can fortify parts of the brain related to reading comprehension.

Using brain imaging techniques, the psychology team spent four hours a day, five days a week, for a total of 200 hours testing 13 high-functioning autistic kids before reaching their positive conclusion.

Dr Rajesh Kana.
Dr Rajesh Kana. Photo: University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Tests undertaken involved a combination of spontaneous reading and on-demand tasks.

Dr Rajesh Kana, Associate Professor of psychology at the University, said "some parents think, if their child is 8 or 10 years old when diagnosed, the game is lost. What I stress constantly is the importance of intervention...on the brain in general and brain connectivity in particular."

What Dr Kana is referring to is neuroplasticity – the ability of the brain to change in response to experiences, which decreases as we age.

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Clinical proof that reading intervention can work wonders. Credit: University of Alabama at Birmingham.

So don't throw away your Dr Suess paperbacks just yet. There's hope for your little one.

If you're down with neuroscientific lingo, you can read the full University press release here