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    Engage Students with Autism in Literacy Learning

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    It is important to remember each child with Autism is different. With that being said, the strategies that are listed below have been proven to help learners with Autism enhance their literacy skills, but they may not be “the” strategy for an individual with Autism. One might find one strategy works really well for a learner, but the others might not work. It is important to first build a relationship with the student with Autism, get to know their personal preferences, and what works best for them. From there, the educator can then locate and engage in strategies that work best for the student.

    Oral reading is a strategy that allows the learner to read aloud the text that the student is engaging in. This specific strategy can be used in many formats; including small group, pairs, individual, and one-on-one learning situations. Walon, Al Otaiba, and Delano (2009) mentioned that allowing a learner with Autism to engage in this strategy provides the learner the opportunity to not only practice reading, but also improve their fluency (p. 13). In another article, LaBarbera and Soto-Hinman explained that this strategy allows learners to improve their reading ability. The authors also stated that this strategy, along with other oral language interventions, is imperative in order for students to achieve greater success in the classroom (p. 2). This strategy would be beneficial because the text is being read aloud. The learner can then take in the text auditorily and can process the information that way. This allows the learner to construct and comprehend the meaning of the text.

    Peer-Tutoring allows for learners with Autism to engage in literacy instruction with a classmate. This not only improves literacy skills for the learner, but also allows the learner with Autism to practice their social and collaboration skills in a low-stakes environment. Articles by Whalon, Al Otaiba, and Delano (2009); Randi, Newman, and Grigorenko (2010); and LaBarbera and Soto-Hinman (2009) all state that learners with Autism benefit from this strategy. The benefit from this strategy is that not only does the learner with Autism improve their literacy skills, but the literacy skills of the peer tutor also improve (LaBarbera & Soto-Hinman (2009), p. 2). Building off of oral reading as a strategy, students who engage in this strategy increase their reading fluency along with the increased ability to quickly respond to comprehension questions (Whalon, Al Otaiba, & Delano (2009) p. 12).

    Small groups allow for further collaborative learning in the general education classroom. The same as peer-tutoring, collaborative learning allows for learners with Autism to practice their social and collaboration skills in a low stakes environment. An article by LaBarbera and Soto-Hinman (2009) explain how small group and collaborative learning instruction is imperative for learners with Autism to engage in increased levels of literacy instruction, such as collaboration (p. 12). Research LaBarbera and Soto-Hinman (2009) made caution earlier in the article which explains learners with Autism should be strategically placed in collaborative learning environments in which at least one participant is an advocate for and will provide additional support for including this learner within the activities (p. 5).

    Computer-assisted interventions is just another of the strategies explored that engage students with Autism in literacy learning. This strategy has great potential in the classroom and can engage students with Autism in the practice of literacy skills, such as reading comprehension. An article by Khowaja and Salim (2013) expressed the findings of how students with Autism engaged in more literacy learning, such as reading and vocabulary, through multimedia methods compared to non-media methods in the classroom (p. 17). This strategy also allows for learners with Autism to engage in learning beyond the text by engaging in activities and games outside of direct instruction. This strategy has also been shown to provide increased attention when it comes to learning material – old and new (Khowaja and Salim (2013) (p. 20)). Computer-assisted interventions have also been proven to benefit learners with Autism as well as can be used to engage learners in reading to understand meaning (Randi, Newman, & Grigorenko (2012), p. 11;14).

    Visuals are another great example for a strategy students with Autism. Visual supports are a great tool for all subjects and times of the day. In regards to reading and literacy instruction, visual supports allow students to comprehend what they are reading without being able to read. Students can use those picture clues to understand feelings, emotions, and what is going on in the story. According to Harris (2012), visual supports aid in holding student’s attention longer as well as reducing anxiety within the student (p. 1). The last thing educators want to do is have increased anxiety about a subject, and have gained another win if student’s attention can be held longer with visual supports. Visual supports have the potential to increase the understanding of language as well as providing massive help to students with Autism according to Harris (2012, p. 1). This strategy can appear in a variety of ways and can be implemented in a variety of means for instruction: whether it be for whole group instruction or small group instruction. In an article by Randi, Newman, and Grigorenko (2010), learners with Autism relied more heavily on visual supports for understanding than learners who did not have access to those visual supports (p. 6).

    Discussion – Learners who excel in reading and literacy instruction – how to further their instruction – research found has strategies that only support learners with Autism that fall short of where their classmates are currently at – would like to see more research for learners with Autism that surpass their classmates

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    Engage Students with Autism in Literacy Learning. (2022, Jan 28). Retrieved from https://artscolumbia.org/engage-students-with-autism-in-literacy-learning-175465/

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