Reading Comprehension for Special Ed Teens: A Basic Overview

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The Goal: Improved Reading Comprehension

It seems like more and more teenage students struggle with reading. Trying to come up with new ways to teach and present reading comprehension to special ed teens can be a challenge. You need to find fun ways to engage them in reading while making it interesting to them. First, let’s identify the problem that some teenagers face with reading comprehension.

Some students struggle with understanding what they read on a daily basis. They are able to read with the proper fluency, but when it comes to answering questions or retelling what they just read, they just can’t seem to do it. The struggle is due to the fact that many students have a specific learning disability in reading that affects their ability to comprehend what they read. You might notice that these students will pause in an inappropriate place when they read aloud, for example. Sometimes they lack familiarity with the vocabulary in the book. What can be done in the classroom to help with this?

High Interest Reading Material

First, we need to try to present teenagers with reading material that is of high interest to them. Many publication companies offer great books that are geared for high school students due to the content. You can look for biographies on people they admire, sports and various other topics that are of specific interest to the teenage mindset. Ask the students what type of books they like to read and find a way to incorporate them into your existing curriculum.

In special education, you have a little more flexibility with your curriculum options because you teach the students based on what the students need. So, let them choose their books.

In the Classroom

In the classroom, there are a few other accommodations that can be made to help children understand what they read. You can present them with small pieces of information at a time. Too much information can be overwhelming, so instead of having them read a chapter, have them read only a couple of pages.

Read out loud to the students or provide them with audiobooks. Many of them struggle just with the reading aspect, so if they can hear the information they will be able to comprehend it better.

As they are reading, have them stop and ask them questions along the way. Have them discuss words that they are not familiar with. Also, provide them with opportunities to frequently review the information; doing this will aid in comprehension as well.

As you can see there are many things that can be done in the classroom that will increase reading comprehension in special ed teens. Try some of these suggestions, because even little changes in the classroom can make a big difference in the students’ ability to comprehend what they read.


  • Author’s Own Experience