Emergent literacy development in preschool-age children with autism spectrum disorder

Emergent literacy development in preschool-age children with autism spectrum disorder

First Author: Matthew Zajic -- University of Virginia
Additional authors/chairs: 
Emily Solari; Ryan Grimm; Alyssa Henry
Keywords: ASD, Emergent literacy, Reading, Writing, Education
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose: This study used latent profile analysis (LPA) to empirically derive profiles of emergent literacy skills in a large, state-wide representative sample of preschool children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This study also sought to examine how profiles differed on later 3rd-grade performance in reading and writing on statewide Standards of Learning (SOL) assessments.

Methods: Data for this study come from de-identified, state-level data of 600 children with ASD from a southeastern state in the United States. Data were collected as part of the statewide Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening Preschool that assesses early writing (name writing) and early reading (alphabet knowledge, beginning sound awareness, print and word awareness, rhyme awareness, and nursery rhyme awareness). SOL tests in reading and writing are annual assessments that measure how well students are meeting the state’s expectations for learning and achievement. Pass/fail rates for reading and writing SOL tests at 3rd grade were examined in this study.

Results: Initial results support the emergence of distinct profiles based on differential performance across reading and writing skills. Findings will be discussed reflective of profile-specific performance levels across reading and writing skills to examine to what extent derived profiles differed in individual reading and writing skills. Profile comparisons on later 3rd-grade reading and writing SOL performance will be further discussed.

Conclusions: Prior studies have focused on individual literacy skills or relied on small, limited samples. This study drew from state-level data and supports the need for increased research in understanding the heterogeneous development of early reading and writing skills in children with ASD. Findings are beneficial to researchers and educators in understanding and developing effective instructional practices in reading and writing to meet the needs of children with ASD.