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Current profiles and early predictors of reading skills in school-age children with autism spectrum disorders: A longitudinal, retrospective population study.

Journal article
Authors Jakob Åsberg Johnels
Emilia Carlsson
Courtenay Norbury
Christopher Gillberg
Carmela Miniscalco
Published in Autism : the international journal of research and practice
Volume 23
Issue 6
ISSN 1461-7005
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Health and Rehabilitation
Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre
Language en
Subject categories Logopedics and phoniatrics, Child and adolescent psychiatry


This study explores current reading profiles and concurrent and early predictors of reading in children with autism spectrum disorder. Before the age of 3 years, the study cohort underwent a neurodevelopmental assessment following identification in a population-based autism screening. At age 8 years, reading, language and cognition were assessed. Approximately half of the sample ( n = 25) were 'poor readers' at age 8 years, meaning that they scored below the normal range on tests of single word reading and reading comprehension. And 18 were 'skilled readers' performing above cut-offs. The final subgroup ( n = 10) presented with a 'hyperlexic/poor comprehenders' profile of normal word reading, but poor reading comprehension. The 'poor readers' scored low on all assessments, as well as showing more severe autistic behaviours than 'skilled readers'. Group differences between 'skilled readers' and 'hyperlexics/poor comprehenders' were more subtle: these subgroups did not differ on autistic severity, phonological processing or non-verbal intelligence quotient, but the 'hyperlexics/poor comprehenders' scored significantly lower on tests of oral language. When data from age 3 were considered, no differences were seen between the subgroups in social skills, autistic severity or intelligence quotient. Importantly, however, it was possible to identify oral language weaknesses in those that 5 years later presented as 'poor readers' or 'hyperlexics'.

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