The efficacy of a computer based reading program for increasing the reading comprehension skills of children with autism (2020)
Type of ContentTheses / Dissertations
Thesis DisciplineSpeech and Language Sciences
Degree NameMaster of Science
PublisherUniversity of Canterbury
Reading comprehension skills are often impaired in children with autism. This multiple-phase single case design study sought to explore the impact of a computer assisted reading program, Reading Eggspress (RE), on the reading comprehension skills of four primary school aged children with autism (mean age 9 years, 10 months). Participants completed the Core Language Score subtests of the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals – Fifth Edition Australia and New Zealand (CELF-5 A&NZ) and the Neale Analysis of Reading Ability – Third Edition (NARA-3) prior to intervention to establish their overall language and literacy skills. Researcher developed reading comprehension probes (RCPs) were used to measure baseline scores and change during intervention phases. Participants engaged in two, four-week phases of a support program; phase A involved RE plus teaching use of a graphic organiser (GO) with texts at participants’ reading levels and phase B involved RE alone. Participants, parents and teachers also completed pre- and post-intervention questionnaires as a measure of social validity.
Participants made gains on reading comprehension skills and use of GOs during the intervention. Three participants showed an increase on RCP scores once treatment commenced, however the variation between RCP scores within participants was large. There did not appear to be a difference between the treatment phases. Three out of four participants made percentile rank gains on NARA-3, with two of these likely reflecting genuine improvements. All parents and teachers gave overall positive responses on post- intervention questionnaires. Four parents and two out of four teachers reported ‘very high’ satisfaction with the support their child/student received during the course of the intervention. Participants themselves rated enjoyment of RE highly, although their reading self-efficacy and enjoyment ratings were varied.
This is the first study to evaluate RE with children with autism, and it appears to hold promise as a supplementary tool for improving reading comprehension skills, with or without additional instruction. This study adds to the literature supporting the potential of technology as a teaching tool for reading comprehension in some children with autism, particularly in its potential for engagement and motivation. Further examination of the psychometric properties of reading comprehension probe tasks is indicated.
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