EFFECTS OF ADAPTED INSTRUCTION ON THE ACQUISITION OF LETTER-SOUND CORRESPONDENCES BY YOUNG CHILDREN WITH AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS AND COMPLEX COMMUNICATION NEEDS

Open Access
Author:
Benedek-Wood, Elizabeth Ashley
Graduate Program:
Special Education
Degree:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Dissertation
Date of Defense:
July 30, 2010
Committee Members:
  • Dr David Mc Naughton, Dissertation Advisor
  • David Brent Mcnaughton, Committee Chair
  • Richard M Kubina Jr., Committee Member
  • Linda H. Mason, Committee Member
  • David Lee, Committee Member
  • Janice Catherine Light, Committee Member
Keywords:
  • complex communication needs
  • letter-sound correspondences
  • autism
Abstract:
Reading is one of the most critical skills taught in schools (Heller, Fredrick, Tumlin, & Brineman, 2002). Individuals who acquire literacy skills are more likely to experience success in school, and to obtain and maintain employment (Adams, 1990; Light & McNaughton, 2009b; Slavin, Karweit, & Madden, 1989). It is therefore an educational priority to address reading instruction for individuals with complex communication needs (i.e., individuals with limited speech), many of whom do not acquire basic literacy skills (Light & McNaughton, 2009b; Koppenhaver & Yoder, 1992). Considering that as many as 50% of individuals with autism do not develop functional speech (Lord & Paul, 1997; Mesibov, Adams, & Klinger, 1997), this is a population of individuals who are at-risk for experiencing reading challenges (Nation, Clarke, Wright, & Williams, 2006). The primary goal of this study was to investigate the impact of adapted instruction on teaching letter-sound correspondences to young learners with autism spectrum disorders and complex communication needs. A multiple-probe multiple baseline research design across participants was used to evaluate the effects of instruction on the acquisition of letter-sound correspondences by three young children with autism spectrum disorders and complex communication needs. All three children (ages 3 to 5) reached criterion for identifying the letter-sound correspondences targeted during instruction. All three children also provided evidence of maintenance and generalization of letter-sound correspondence skills. Results, social validity, educational implications, and future research directions are discussed.