The overarching goal of this proposal is to test the impact of a comprehensive reading intervention program on changing the neurobiological mechanisms underlying reading comprehension deficits in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). There is evidence that as many as 65% of children with ASD have a deficit in reading comprehension. This ultimately has profound impact on language, learning, and academic success (Nation, Clarke, Wright, & Williams, 2006). Poor reading comprehension in children with autism is often masked by their relative strength in decoding. Moreover, reading comprehension in general is not well- understood, and as a result, current treatments are limited in its potential and in its effectiveness. In this project, we will test a group of children with ASD and NT control participants who share common characteristic of average level decoding along with below average reading comprehension. We also have included an additional NT group without any reading comprehension deficits, and this group will serve as another control for additional comparisons. We will test the efficacy of an intensive reading intervention training program, visualizing and verbalizing for language comprehension and thinking (V/V), and its effects on changing the brain circuitry underlying reading comprehension in children with ASD. The project will use multimodal neuroimaging with task-based functional MRI, resting state functional MRI, diffusion imaging, and neuropsychological testing. It should be noted that neuroimaging as well as behavioral studies of language in autism have largely ignored a subgroup of children with comprehension deficits. The proposed project addresses this critical gap by targeting brain plasticity in children with ASD (age: 7-13 years). Average decoding ability with below average comprehension of language in children is an important problem of academic and public health significance. The outcome of this study will throw more light on this important subgroup of children. In addition, it will test the efficacy of an intervention that can, in the long-run, help NT and disabled children with reading problems to achieve academic success. Findings may provide important preliminary steps in using V/V intervention in schools.
The overarching goal of this proposal is to test the impact of a comprehensive reading intervention program (Visualizing and Verbalizing) on changing the neurobiological mechanisms underlying reading comprehension deficits in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). To this end, we will test a group of children with ASD and NT control participants who share common characteristic of average level decoding along with below average reading comprehension. Inclusion of an additional NT group that does not have any reading comprehension deficit will provide another control for additional comparisons.