Social Skills and Reading Comprehension

I haven’t posted in awhile so I thought it was time to show my nerdiness!

(Nerd – definition – A person who is single-minded or accomplished in scientific or technical pursuits but is felt to be socially inept)  IRONIC that this post is about social skills!

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Did you know that by targeting Social Skills, we are also targeting listening and reading comprehension?!  Whoa, getting a lot of bang for our buck…I must say…


I really enjoy teaching Social Skills!  I’ve noticed, as I’m sure most of you have also, that many of my kids on the spectrum have great difficulty with reading comprehension.  They especially have trouble with higher order language skills such as inferencing, predicting, cause/effect, etc.

I’m sure if we collaborated with regular and special education teachers about targeting pragmatics in their lessons, we’d get to target social skills more than once a week!  I think that it’d be worth the time!

If you feel like you have to justify why you are targeting social skills, here’s some information that might help!  Or, if you just want to be a nerd like me 🙂


So, how does Social Skills relate to Reading Comprehension?

The following information was Retrieved on 4/14/2014 at

#1.  “Linguistic skills utilized by listening and reading comprehension: 

  • vocabulary knowledge
  • grammatical skills
  • metalinguistic awareness, idioms, and figurative language”

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“Theory of Mind, one aspect of pragmatic competence defined as the ability to appreciate another person’s thoughts and beliefs, is important for reading comprehension.  Theory of mind has its roots in the early years when children begin to appreciate the feelings of another person (empathize).  More advanced understanding is required in order to appreciate communicative acts, such as joking, lying, criticism and irony.  These non-literal themes are often conveyed in stories.  Communication as well as reading frequently involves looking beyond the precise information stated; it also involves understanding other relevant information that needs to be coded to understand the message being conveyed.  These assumptions are often referred to as inferences.  Inference-making can be thought of as a process of ‘gap-filling’; inference-making is automatic for the skilled user of language and is important both for listening and for reading comprehension”.

“Inferences are fundamental to successful reading comprehension.  Research has shown that children as young as four years old can generate certain types of inferences during reading; generally these are causal in nature (e.g. what causes a physical action). Children become more adept at inference generation with age and older children tend to generate only those inferences that are necessary for text comprehension”.


The following information was Retrieved on 4/14/2014 at

#2. Less clues in written text – More on inferencing

“In contrast to spoken language, written text contains far fewer contextualization cues for readers as an audience to draw inferences from.  For example, in a spoken context, listeners have access to paralinguistic clues such as voice quality, intonation, volume, etc. as well as nonverbal signals such as gestures and facial expression.  But in written text, such clues are not always present”.

Check out my TPT resource “To Text or Not to Text”; this resource targets perspective taking, problem solving, inferencing, predicting, paralinguistics (i.e. prosody)!

24 pages in length!  Skills targeted: perspective taking, problem solving, inferencing, predicting, paralinguistics (i.e. prosody)  What’s included? •Determining if the Texts are Expected or Unexpected (24 opportunities) •How to respond to a text based on a given scenario (12 opportunities) •Different ways 1 text can be interpreted based on different words being emphasized within that same text (8 opportunities) (An answer key is included for the last activity)


The following information was Retrieved on 4/14/2014 at

#3.  Context

“Although words alone carry meaning, reading for the most part involves the deciphering of phrases and sentences, which depends on both the words and how those words are organized.  Therefore, it is important to spend instructional time not only on the meanings of individual words but also on the meanings of phrases and complete sentences.  Pragmatics, which is introduced in the later primary years (7-12)  Pragmatics involves understanding how the context influences the way sentences convey information. A sentence can have different purposes depending on the situation or context in which it is used. It can be a mere statement or affirmation, but it can also be a warning, a promise, a threat, or something else. Readers with pragmatic knowledge and skills are able to decipher these different intents from the context”.

“Teachers in the later primary years need to show children how to use context clues that surround an unfamiliar word to help figure out the word’s meaning. Because children learn most word meanings indirectly, or from context, it is important that they learn to use context clues effectively. However, context clues alone are not enough; the teacher will need to teach other word-meaning strategies to develop the child’s ability to learn new words”.

Check out my TPT resource – Academic Vocabulary Race! – Context Clues – Common Core Aligned

The packet also includes information on 'why to use context clues' and information from Iredell Statesville Schools about Common Core Standards.  This game includes 25 sentences that include 4th and 5th grade ELA (English Language Arts) Vocabulary and the students use the context clues in the sentence to determine the definitions of the ELA vocabulary words.   The students have opportunities to get extra points and move their car ahead on the game board by providing synonyms, antonyms, multiple meanings of the words, acting/drawing it out, or providing another example/sentence of the word.


The following information was Retrieved on 4/14/2014 at

#4.  Reading comprehension is a core challenge for students on the spectrum

Sample intervention goals based on core challenges in ASD.

Advanced language stages – Demonstrating story grammar knowledge, decoding, and letter–sound correspondence and expanding literacy skills (e.g., reading comprehension and written expression)

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Do you incorporate reading comprehension in your social skills groups?  If so, how?

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