Emergent literacy for children on the autism spectrum

In recent years, parents, educators and therapists have been buoyed by findings that evidence-based early intervention can alter the developmental course and trajectories of children on the autism spectrum. These results point to observed gains in adaptive behaviour and cognition, as well as preliminary evidence for changes in brain activity.

Yet there has been a distinct lack of attention to the educational supports and outcomes of children on the spectrum once they reach school, including factors that predict and maintain learning advantage and disadvantage and strategies to support students, parents, and teachers.

This project directly addressed the significant current research and practice gap in the understanding of, and capacity to address, literacy challenges in children on the spectrum. Given that learning to read and write is a key determinant of educational outcomes, health, and social outcomes, the results of this project will have direct implications for supporting people on the autism spectrum across the lifespan.

The overarching objective of this project is to measure and identify factors that predict emergent literacy skills in children on the spectrum as they transition to school, providing direction for early intervention to help optimise academic success.

The aims of this project are:

(a) To determine if the print-related (DV1) and meaning-related (DV2) emergent literacy skills of children on the spectrum differed to those of children not on the spectrum

(b) To determine the impact of various factors on children’s emergent literacy development

(c) To determine whether children on the spectrum required specific strategies for promoting emergent literacy development.

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