Objectives: To determine the effect of dialogic reading on early literacy development in young children with ASD, specifically on children’s (1) performance on formal measures of emergent literacy knowledge; (2) knowledge of vocabulary specifically targeted in books; and (3) participation during book reading.
Methods: In this study, a multiple baseline design across participants was used to examine the effect of a modified dialogic reading approach on early literacy outcomes in 14 preschool students with ASD. Baseline book reading sessions consisted of school personnel reading to students “as they would normally.” Intervention book reading sessions consisted of school personnel reading to students using a modified dialogic reading approach.
Results: School personnel who served as interventionists were able to learn modified dialogic reading techniques and appropriately apply the strategies in daily book reading with their students. Results indicate that dialogic reading was effective in improving some components of early literacy skills for children with ASD, particularly oral language skills. Baseline book reading, in which school personnel read to students “as they would normally,” resulted in consistently low levels of verbal participation by students followed by an immediate increase in verbal participation during dialogic book reading sessions. Children in this study also showed improved outcomes in book-specific vocabulary and listening comprehension skills during book readings that incorporated dialogic reading techniques. There were no differences found in phonological awareness and print concepts.
Conclusions: The results of this study suggest that the incorporation of dialogic reading strategies during shared book reading is effective in improving oral language outcomes and participation in preschoolers with ASD. Dialogic reading is a promising practice that should be incorporated as a part of early literacy curriculum for children with ASD.
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