Award Date

5-2010

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Special Education

Department

Special Education

First Committee Member

Kyle Higgins, Chair

Second Committee Member

Tom Pierce

Third Committee Member

Susan Miller

Fourth Committee Member

Randall Boone

Graduate Faculty Representative

Richard Tandy

Number of Pages

253

Abstract

Young children with autism often are identified as experiencing problems in language, social, and behavioral development. Current research typically focuses on these three areas with little attention paid to the academic learning of these children. Because of this, young children with autism often do not engage in typical early literacy experiences (e.g.., emergent literacy activities). This can result in these children being at risk for developing poor literacy skills. It is important that researchers begin to explore systematic literacy instruction for young children with autism to not only increase literacy learning, but also facilitate the inclusion of these children in the school setting and beyond.

This study focused on teaching alphabet skills to young children with autism. Two instructional conditions were compared, traditional teacher‐led group instruction that used alphabet books and multimedia computer‐assisted instruction. Data were compared to determine the effects on alphabetic skills acquisition and maintenance. The effects on student attentive behavior and engagement in problem behavior in each intervention condition also were compared. Teacher opinions of computer‐assisted instruction in self‐contained preschool classrooms for children with autism were evaluated prior to and at the conclusion of the study.

The results of this study indicate that both interventions were effective for improving the students’ alphabet recognition skills. The children in both interventions also maintained their learning over the maintenance periods. In both intervention groups, the children had high rates of attention to task and low rates of undesirable behavior. The participating teachers reported positive attitudes and beliefs toward computer‐assisted instruction prior to and following the study.

Keywords

Alphabet; Autism; Behavior; Children; Computer; Early intervention; Early literacy instruction; Literacy skills; Multimedia computer‐assisted instruction; Teacher-led instruction

Disciplines

Education | Instructional Media Design | Liberal Studies | Special Education and Teaching

Language

English


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