Early literacy learning experiences across home and community libraries for young children who have autism

Published December 2019
Abstract
Many school-aged children on the autism spectrum display challenges in literacy development. Early learning experiences in the home and the community are important for the development of literacy success. Community libraries deliver story time to support children’s literacy experience and to provide parents with literacy teaching strategies. Little research has been conducted on the uptake of literacy experiences of families with children on the spectrum. This study investigated the early literacy experiences in the home and community of children on the spectrum (2–5 years) compared with their typically developing peers. Participants included parents of children on the spectrum (n = 41) and parents of typically developing children (n = 164). Parents completed an online questionnaire on early literacy, library visits, and early literacy session attendance. A rich home literacy environment was reported in both groups. Differences were reported between groups on interest in books and frequency of shared book reading. This appeared to be driven by the presence of the child’s language ability (level of phrase speech). When controlled for presence of phrase speech, the group differences were no longer evident. Significant group differences were reported on reasons for not attending early literacy library sessions. Parents of children on the spectrum more frequently identified unsuitability of the environment and child disinterest as reasons for nonattendance than parents of typically developing children. Identifying barriers to early literacy experiences for children on the spectrum is important to inform future development of supportive experiences for literacy development in this group.
Citation
Simpson, K., Paynter, J., Wicks, R. & Westerveld, M. (2019). Early literacy learning experiences across home and community libraries for young children who have autism. Advances in Neurodevelopmental Disorders, early online, 1-11. doi: 10.1007/s41252-019-00145-7

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