Reading comprehension is the mechanics of reading text and the ability to understand story structure. Speech-Language Pathologists can help with both. We are trained in phonological processing, which is part of reading mechanics. Where we really shine is in teaching story structure. Stories have a defined structure, or “story grammar”, just as a sentence does. We use the SKILL approach (Supporting Knowledge in Language and Literacy) developed at Utah State University to teach reading comprehension.
All stories have a character(s), a setting, an event that begins the story (usually a problem), a character reaction to the event, action(s) taken because of the event, and an ending. Understanding these basic story elements is critical for reading comprehension. The SKILL approach uses pictures, called story icons, that represent each story part.
What Does Reading Comprehension Therapy Look Like?
We teach what the story icons mean, how to identify the problem and how to relate a character’s feeling and reaction to the problem. Then we practice retelling stories and answering comprehension questions. Our experience agrees with the research Utah State has done—this is an extremely effective approach to improve reading comprehension.