Welcome to AUTOR!
This page explains:
- what AUTOR is
- how it can help you make your text easier to understand for people with autism
- what the most common reading difficulties of people with autism are
What is AUTOR?
AUTOR is a text-processing tool which can give you feedback on how easy or difficult your text is for a person with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Furthermore, AUTOR can help you with making your text more accessible by suggesting ways to rewrite it, as well as suggesting images or definitions which could help the reader understand it better. AUTOR is based on scientific research involving adult participants who were diagnosed with autism.
Who is AUTOR for?
Basically anyone who wants to make their text accessible for a person with autism.
If you are:
- a teacher helping a student with autism in your class
- a professional supporting people on the autism spectrum
- a writer of easy-to-read versions of documents
- a person with a passion for equality and accessible information
…then AUTOR is for you.
In the process of development of the tool, we have focused on using educational texts and newspaper articles, which means that the tool is most accurate when assessing textbooks and news.
What are the reading difficulties of people with autism?
People with autism are very different from one another, just like people without autism are not always alike. Some people with autism are exceptionally good at reading. They can even be better readers than people who do not have autism! However, other people with autism may struggle reading texts which have certain characteristics. These could be texts which have many long sentences and long and unfamiliar words. These could also be texts which have short sentences and simple words but are organised in a way that makes it difficult to follow the ideas in the text. These could also be texts, which contain too much figurative language, irony or sarcasm.
Why is it important to have accessible texts for people with autism?
As a result of their reading difficulties many people with autism struggle at school or simply drop out. Later on in life this affects their chances of getting employed and may result in social exclusion. This could be prevented if people with autism are given access to texts which do not contain the specific things characteristics they struggle with. While technology is not yet mature enough to take a text document and adapt it fully automatically to the needs of a person with autism, AUTOR helps humans to produce such documents efficiently and at no additional cost.
What does AUTOR do?
You can copy-paste your text in the window and get feedback of whether your texts is easy, medium or difficult for a person with autism. It is important that you match your readers to the correct level of difficulty of the text:
EASY texts are suitable for all people on the autism spectrum who are able to read, including those with mild intellectual disability. It is safe to use EASY texts if you know that your readers really struggle with reading or if you don’t know who is going to read your text – it is probably going to be understood by everyone. It is also useful to have EASY texts for situations in which your readers may be reading the text under pressure, for example, instructions for what to do in an emergency. However, keep in mind that if your readers are very able, they may find EASY texts too patronizing or simply boring.
Click here for an example of an easy text
MEDIUM texts are suitable for people on the autism spectrum who do not have any form of intellectual disability but struggle with comprehending certain things such as very long sentences, complex words, words which may have many meanings or words that are too abstract and difficult to imagine.
Click here for an example of a medium text
DIFFICULT texts are suitable for skilled readers who do not experience reading comprehension difficulties.
Click here for an example of a difficult text
The most important thing is that your text makes sense, conveys that message you want the reader to receive and is easy to follow. Never split up sentences or substitute words if it breaks the structure of your text.