Strategies for Improving Literacy for Students with ASDThe following information may be helpful in building literacy skills for young and elementary aged students with ASD. This includes resources on the STARTLiteracy web page, texts by authors who specialize in literacy and ASD, and online resources that support the outlined strategies. Noted in the followingare characteristics that impact literacy for students with ASD, areas for possible intervention, one or more strategies for implementing the intervention,and resources where noted strategies can be found. An overview of literacy practices, skills, and reading profiles also are covered.Inclusive Literacy Practices (START Literacy & ASD Presentation)There are universally accepted strategies and practices that are embedded throughout the following options for teaching literacy to students with ASD.Consider these points as the strategies are designed and implemented for students and classrooms. Keep expectations high and continually move the bar as the student progresses. Elicit student perspectives by using their personal interests, fascinations, passions to promote interest and engagement in reading. Use flexible grouping strategies, diversity, and differentiated instruction based on the need of the student. Use elastic instructional approaches as a basis for all literacy instruction.- Visual Supports.- Priming for background knowledge.- Peer models of literate behavior and partners in paired reading situations.- Use student interests, fascinations, and passions to promote interest and engagement in developing literacy skills.- Engage readers before, during, and after reading.- Use interactive approaches such as literacy software, applications, websites, books, and PowerPoint presentations. Focus on emergent literacy skills progressing to more complex skills. Practice-practice-practice as vocabulary requires multiple exposures to be fully learn, be maintained, and generalize (Carnahan & Williamson, 2011, p.332). When using reward systems, assure the reward is reinforcing to the individual. This will vary from student to student, class to class, and even day today. If the student has gotten too much of a reward, they may be tired of it so change rewards, fade rewards slowly, keep rewards more frequent anddesirable for new and difficult skills being learned. If using the suggested texts and resources for strategies, note whether the resource was designed specifically for students with ASD. Somemodification of the comprehension strategy may need to take place to differentiate for needs of the specific student and to maximizeeffectiveness.Emerging Literacy and Students with ASD (Carnahan & Williamson, 2010; Island & Smith-Myles, 2011)START: Strategies for Improving Literacy for Students with ASD1
The following outlines emergent literacy skills to subsequently teach expanded literacy skills and reading comprehension. Also, literacyconsiderations for students with ASD from 4th grade forward.Emergent LiteracyEmergent Literacy(Carnahan & Williamson, 2010, p. 222)A. Decoding: awareness and recognition of structure ofprint including meaning and function of print.Individual unit of written language a letter(grapheme); one or more sounds associated with oneor more letters (phoneme).a. Phonological awareness: recognize and buildsound properties of words.b. Alphabet knowledge: can receptively identifyletters, expressively name letters, match letters tosoundsc. Print concepts: understanding the forms,functions, and features of print; direction,organization, and meaning of print (e.g.understand genres of print are different such ascoupons are for shopping and storybooks are forentertainment); understand letters make upwords.d. Emergent writing: attempts to convey informationthrough written symbols; writing progresses fromdrawing and scribbling to letter like formations tocomplete letters.(Carnahan & Williamson, 2010, p. 222)B. Comprehension: global understanding ofprinted words and sentences. Languagecomprehension of semantic and syntacticrelationships of and between words.a. Vocabulary: understands meaning ofwords.b. Grammatical understanding:understanding of basic syntax of wordsand sentences; understands varioussentence types and clause structures andwhen reading uses this information forcomprehension.c. Narratives: oral or written description ofan event and may be personal account orfictional retellings of a story. Topic ispresented by the speaker or writer andsequence of events are linked together.Expanding Literacy(Island & Smith-Myles, 2011. p. 48)A. Use of context: ability to determinecorrect meaning of words andunderstanding homographs through selfmonitoring and self-correction; maycontinue reading even if text does notmake sense; figuring out meaning fromunknown words; ability to integrateinformation from background knowledge.B. Pronouns: understanding pronouns inprint and stopping to clarify meaning(called anaphoric cuing).C. Questioning: asking questions before,during, and after reading and central tocomprehension. Prerequisite for morecomplex strategies and thoughtprocesses.D. Auditory comprehension of spoken (oral)language: ability to understand academicinstruction. Translates to ability tounderstand written language.Literacy Skills Needs: 4th Grade Forward (Island & Smith-Myles, p. 75)Many literacy issues not recognized earlier present in 4 th grade with comprehension challenges as more advanced thinking and learning is required from 4 th grade on.Readers must apply what they are reading to discussions, writing assignments, and other work.A. Missing prerequisite skills and uneven development of literacy skills.B. May have traditional strong decoding skills.C. Comprehension issues impact more than one area.D. Behavioral issues may develop and could be side effects of underlying comprehension issues. This includes changes in frustration level, anxiety, answer, selfesteem, depression, self-stimulatory behavior, emotional states, etc. Students may not be aware of what is bothering them or be able to describe it.Create a Reading Profile (START Literacy & ASD Presentation)START: Strategies for Improving Literacy for Students with ASD2
Create a reading profile for each student to determine reading current ability and vocabulary, and help the student expand literacy skills. The readingprofile controls for interest area, vocabulary, and background knowledge:r'Phoneme BasicsI& SegmentationPhonological Letter soundsSegmentationand blends Sentences intowords\.II Words intosyllables Words intophonemesI,,. iAlphabet &Letter Sounds Upper/lowercase letternames Consonantsounds Vowel soundsI,,. Reading lingI Reading Fluency Oral reading Fluencymeasures Timed readingfor passages'I Creating a Reading Profile TemplateCOR E Reading Assess mentFa llSpri n &No t es & Scori n&: Sca le sVocabulary Screening Used in text andcontext'I Comprehension Probes May be anunderestimate ofperformanceCORE Phoneme Of! letion testPartA: lnftial Sound(LateKindergarten)For t he CORE Reading assessment, the following co lor codes are used:Part 8: Fina l Sound (Grade 1)Part C: First sound of a conronant Blend (Grade 2)f---------------- ------- f------tPart D: Embedded Sound of a Consonant Blend (Grad e 3 ) ---------------- ------- f------tCORE Phoneme Segmentation TestGreen independent Leve l At BenchmarkYellow Instruct ional Level Strategic In t ervention (grade-level)Red frustra t ionleve l l nt em iv e ln t ervention n eededCORE Phonolog ic.al Segmen tation TestPartB:Wordi;int oSylla b lesPa rtC :Words intoPhonemesAlphabetSkills ,rndLetterSounds0. Letter Names - Upper CaseQ. Conson antSOu ndsR. Long Vowe l soundss. Short vowe l soundsCore Phonics Survey: Reading & Decoding (Mastery Test)T. Short Vowels in CVC wo rdsU. Consonant Blends with Short Vowel sV. Short vowels. Digraphs and TrigraphsData Collection for Literacy GoalsIt is important to collect both pre-intervention (or baseline) and post-intervention data when considering gains in literacy for the student.Performance based measures are important to assure progress in literacy goals. START has a number of data collection forms that can beSTART: Strategies for Improving Literacy for Students with ASD3'
adapted to individual reading goals. Examples are given throughout the provided strategies. For START samples, data collection forms, awebinar, and more go to Individual Student Data Collection Forms.Data Collection Literacy Skills ExamplesThe follow are sample goal areas for measuring progress for literacy skills through data collection. When defining a number of responses toward a goal, itis important to note the expected number of correct responses given the number of total opportunities, or a percent of correct responding. While theworking toward the goal, there should be incremental improvement. If improvement is not demonstrated, reconsider whether the goal is too high or thestudent may have the skill and is not able to demonstrate it in a given setting. Increasing recognition or definition of number of adjectives, adverbs, pronouns Identifying main idea and defined number of details in a passage Spelling defined number of words using spelling strips, phonetically, or from memory Matching defined number of upper and lower-case letters Building (defined number) of 3-letter words from corresponding picture (e.g. dog, cat, pig, cow) Combining (defined number) of compound words based on corresponding picture (e.g. cowboy picture of cow and boy) Sequencing through words or pictures a defined number of story events Sounding out defined number of words phonetically or from memoryr . 6. lmplem tInstruction2 Ob inRe va t Datatl3 An lyze5 es for Improving Literacy for Students with ASDSTART: Strategies for Improving Literacy for Students with ASD4
Theory of Mind/ gIExecutiveFunctionRepetitivePatterns ofBehaviorThe Top 10:Joint Attention &Social EngagementCharacteristicsof ASD thatImpactLITERACY\Language &CommunicationIRestrictedInterests &MotivationPriorKnowledgePragmaticsSTART: Strategies for Improving Literacy for Students with ASD5
1. Joint Attention & Social Engagement: The ability to respond to and engage in shared, enjoyable experiences including looking to others tounderstand how they feel about their experiences and imitating others to learn new skills.Comprehension SkillLack of shared interestin the readingexperience resulting inmissed learningopportunities.Resources to consider whenimplementing LiteracyinstructionStrategies & SupportsText Selection Select an attractive book with limited print on a topic that may be a preferredinterest and incorporates flaps, moveable parts or textures.High Interest Area: DogsCool Dog, School Dogpu IiSTART: Strategies for Improving Literacy for Students with ASDExamples young children: Interest-Dogs: Harry the DirtyDog (Author: Gene Zion);Where’s Spot? Series (Author:Eric Hill) Interest-Trains: Chugga ChuggaChoo-Choo, Thomas the TrainExamples for elementary agedchildren (at Amazon): Interest-Dogs: Cool Dog, SchoolDog (Author: DeborahHeiligman); Shiloh (The ShilohQuartet) (Author: PhyllisReynolds Naylor); Biscuit Series(Author: Alyssa Satin Capucilli) Interest-Trains: NationalGeographic (Author: AmyShields); Locomotive (Author:Brian Floca)6
Lack of shared interestin the readingexperience resulting inmissed learningopportunities.(continued)Reading the TextDuring shared reading session, the adult should: Use student interests as themes or increase involvement in theme-based lessons;read the book and animation with enthusiasm; and build strong relationships withstudents while being supportive and creating caring settings. When the target time or page has been reached, verbal praise should be providedto the child (e.g. “You did a great job listening to the story!”) and then the sessionshould be ended.Use positively reinforcing statements:“Nice reading, you did a great job findingthe main idea in the paragraph!”Lack of imitation skillsto practice thebehaviors of readingand to develop newinterests.Differentiates print from pictures Point to an illustration and state, “This picture shows what is happening.” Point to print and explain, “These words tell the story.” After several sessions, determine whether the child can differentiate print frompictures by saying, “Show me the words that tell the story.” Praise a correct response (“you did a great job showing me the words!) andprovide assistance if the child is unsure or responds incorrectly. Student must know what vocabulary words mean prior to using this strategy.TheTheCatDogThesatranupdownCarnahan & Williamson (2010), p.198, Table 7.5: What DoExemplary Teachers Do? Item 1:Motivate learners and createexcitement about learning.Carnahan & Williamson (2010), p.62. Positive Reinforcement:implementing positivereinforcement during instruction.Ezell & Justice (2005). Chapter 6:Using Shared Reading to DevelopChildren’s Emergent Literacy Skills;Section: Differentiates Print fromPictures, pp. 90-91.Use prompts ifneeded, e.g.highlighting thecorrect word orfill in first letteron blank lines.START: Strategies for Improving Literacy for Students with ASD7
Lack of imitation skillsto practice thebehaviors of readingand to develop newinterests.(continued)Identifies directionality of left page to right page During shared reading, state, “I read this page first (pointing to the left page), andI read this one next (pointing to the right page)”. After one to three reading sessions, say “Show me where I should read first—thispage (model by pointing to the left page) or that page (model by pointing to theright page).” Praise the child’s correct response and provide assistance if the child seemsunsure or responds incorrectly. Point to where to startreading; follow