A Resource for Teachers, Clinicians, Parents, and Students by the Brain Injury Association of New York State.
Problem: The student can read (decode) words, but does not seem to understand what he reads, especially with longer reading materials.
Cognitive / Self-Regulatory Possibility: Weak orientation to task

Step 1: Organize observations relevant to the problematic behavior/issue

  • Who is reporting the problem?
  • When does it occur? (Include time of day, activities etc).
  • Where does it occur?
  • What tends to precede the problematic behavior/issue?
  • What tends to follow the problematic behavior/issue?
  • What is the age and functioning level of the student?
  • Previous documentation/charts?

Step 2: Identify possible contributors to the problematic behavior/issue

In many cases, there are several contributors to the student’s identified problem. These contributors may interact with each other, therefore, it may be necessary to combine tests from different categories of possibilities. The existence of several interacting contributors may become obvious as you proceed through individual intervention experiments.

Weak orientation to task: Some students may appear to have difficulty with reading comprehension as a result of disorientation or uncertainty regarding what is required of them. (See Tutorials on Language Comprehension; Organization; Reading Comprehension.)

Relevant observations: The student may frequently be confused about what he is supposed to be doing. He may look to other students for guidance. He may frequently fail to follow directions. He may appear lost and confused. He may use reading comprehension strategies when explicitly cued to do so, but not otherwise.

Useful experiments for assessment and intervention:

  1. Observe and record the frequency and/or intensity of the problem behavior when a new teaching strategy or support is being implemented versus when it is not being implemented.
  2. Possible orientation-to-task, direction-following teaching strategies or supports (See Tutorial on Language Comprehension): Create an environment that allows for instructional support. This may include (a) simplifying and repeating the directions or giving the student directions in both written and verbal form (e.g., posters on the wall) – especially instructions regarding reading comprehension strategies; (b) creating a visual schedule for the student to follow so that she knows exactly what she should be doing and when she should be doing it; ( c) creating a buddy system so that the student can follow the lead of another student. In ways such as this, ensure that the student has every opportunity to be oriented to the task and succeed.
  3. If reading comprehension improves during intervention, it may be that the problem behavior is in part a result of confusion, disorganization, weak language comprehension, or lack of task orientation. (See Tutorials on Instructional Routines, Language Comprehension, Reading Comprehension.)

Possible referrals: Instructional support specialist for instructional strategies; speech-language pathologist for language assessment

A program of the Brain Injury Association of New York State, and funded by the Developmental Disabilities Planning Council.

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The Brain Injury Association of New York State
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