A meta-analysis on the cognitive and linguistic correlates of reading skills among children with ASD

Ying Wang, Zhu Lan, Isabella Duan, Peng Peng, Wei Wang, Tengfei Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This meta-analysis aimed to systematically investigate the cognitive and linguistic correlates of both word decoding and reading comprehension among children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) across orthographies. Based on data from 26 studies of 1.92- to 18.92-year-old children with ASD, we found that (1) intelligence, theory of mind, and executive function exhibited modest associations (rs =.41,.46, and.39, respectively) with reading; (2) phonological awareness, semantic skills, and syntax skills also showed modest associations (rs =.53,.50, and.53, respectively) with reading; (3) cognitive and linguistic skills showed comparable contributions to word decoding and reading comprehension, when both skills were analyzed in the same model with meta-analytic structural equation modeling; (4) age, language type, publication type, sample type, and reading measures did not moderate the relations. Taken together, these findings suggested that although children with ASD exhibit language weaknesses, their linguistic skills still made important contributions to reading development beyond cognitive skills. Further, cognitive skills may compensate for language deficits in children with ASD’s reading development. Implications for reading interventions in children with ASD were also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1487-1514
Number of pages28
JournalReading and Writing
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Cognitive skills
  • Linguistic skills
  • Meta-analysis
  • Reading comprehension
  • Word decoding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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