New Research Demonstrates Gains in Emergent Reading Skills for Adolescents with Autism and Intellectual Disabilities
We have new research to share with you which demonstrates improvements in the emergent reading skills of adolescents with autism, intellectual and multiple disabilities. The research was conducted by Penelope Hatch, Ph.D., CCC-SLP at the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
In Dr. Hatch’s seven-week intervention, she studied 43 students, ages 12 to 21, with diverse ethnicities and exceptionalities to determine the effects on their daily reading experiences using age/ability-appropriate text with two groups of teachers, i.e. teachers trained to teach comprehensive literacy instruction and teachers without this training. Each student group read Don Johnston’s Start-to-Finish Literacy Starters, a collection of computer and paperback books designed for non-readers and students reading at beginning levels. Students read for 30 minutes a day in self-selected reading assignments, teacher-led instruction or a combination of the two practices.
There was a significant difference between the average pretest and posttest performance for the 43 students. The first group improved their scores by 5%. Students in Group 2 who were taught by teachers trained on comprehensive literacy instruction improved by 8%. These students focused on word and vocabulary instruction, reading comprehension and writing.
“Traditionally, special education teachers kept their approach narrow when teaching students with significant disabilities to read,” said Dr. Hatch. “This approach typically involves using only sight words or learning the alphabet through decontextualized drill and practice.
Our study set out to determine: 1) if students with moderate to severe intellectual disabilities could improve their reading skills when given daily access to age/ability-appropriate books; and 2) if students made more improvement when taught by teachers who were trained and familiar with teaching comprehensive literacy instruction.”