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PBL Case Study: Sally

Presented by: Laura MacLellan Jacqueline Schulz Roberta MacDonald

Meet Sally

• 10 years old
• diagnosed with autism at age 3

• Integrated into a regular grade 5 classroom
• participates in most classroom activities with modifications

Meet Sally

• Academic level: Kindergarten • Verbal skills: speaks in 3- to 5-word sentences • Self-care: independent with most self-care routines • Social skills: good play skills with familiar classmates

The task
 Parents • recently attended workshop, excited about the idea of Sally learning to read

• want to know about literacy interventions
 School team

• wants to know about literacy instruction


• • • • Components of literacy instruction Challenges Research-based literacy programs Summary



Language Skills
Reading and understanding Simple Text

Phonological Awareness

Reading Instruction
Recognition of Sight Words
Letter Sound Correspondence

Application of Decoding Skills

Decoding Skills

(Adapted from Light & McNaughten, 2011)


Language Skills
• Knowledge and skills in the form, content, and use of language
– vocabulary, sentence structures, recognizing stories and different kinds of text

(Light & McNaughten, 2011)


Language Skills
• Read, Read, Read!


Phonological awareness skills
• Skills that enable students to manipulate phonemes and sounds, and recognize similarities or differences in the sounds of words • Sound blending skills
– The ability to build words by blending the individual sounds that make up the word

• Phoneme segmentation skills
– Skills that enable students to break words down into their component sounds (Light & McNaughten, 2011)

Phonological Awareness: Example Activity
Phonemic Awareness Task
Deleting phonemes

Demonstration Activity
Students identify the word that remains when a phoneme is removed Students break a word into its individual sounds by counting the sounds or by moving a marker for each sound. Students make new words by adding a phoneme to a word. Students make a new word by replacing a specified phoneme with another.

T: What word is left when we drop the /s/ from the word spot? S: pot T: Show me how many phonemes are there in the word bake. S: three — /b/ /a/ /k/ T: What word do you make when you add a /b/ to the beginning of the word ring? S: bring T: Say the word bag. Now change the /b/ to an /r/. What is the new word? S: rag

Segmenting words into phonemes

Adding phonemes

Substituting phonemes

Directly from Effective Reading Instruction (2004)


Letter-sound correspondence
• Knowledge of the relationship between sounds and letters:
- that sounds are represented by letters (phonics)

(Light & McNaughten, 2011)


Letter-sound Correspondence: Example Activity
T: Our new sound is /k/. Listen for the /k/ sound in these words. The teacher says each word slowly, emphasizing the initial sound. cat can cup T: Now, I’m going to say the words again as I write them on the board. The first letter in each of these words says /k/. The teacher repeats cat, can and cup, exaggerating the /k/ phoneme each time the letter c is written.

T: In these three words, the letter c stands for the sound /k/. Say the words with me.
Ss: cat can cup

The teacher points to the letter c in each word as students say the word. The teacher will introduce other letters that can represent the /k/ sound in later lessons after students have had considerable practice with this letter-sound correspondence. 13

Decoding skills
• Ability to apply knowledge of letter-sound correspondences and sound blending skills to “sound out” regular words

(Light & McNaughten, 2011)


Decoding Skills: Example Activity
• The instructor presents a written word. • The learner
– looks at the letters in the word – thinks of the sounds for each of the letters – blends them together – determines the word

Directly from Light & McNaughten (2011)


Application of decoding
• Incorporating knowledge of letter sounds and the ability to blend sounds to “sound out” words when reading

(Light & McNaughten, 2011)


Application of Decoding Skills: Example Activity
The instructor • reads each sentence and pauses at simple regular words for the learner to decode The learner • decodes the word and then says it

Directly from Light & McNaughten (2011)


Application of Decoding Skills: Example Activity


Recognition of sight words
• ability to recognize a word (and understand its meaning) by looking at the letters without sounding it out

(Light & McNaughten, 2011)


Recognition of Sight Words: Example Activity
Fossett & Mirenda (2006)

car apple



Video from Brenda

Recognition of Sight Words: Example Activity
The learner must • listen to the target sight word spoken out loud -- “the” • select the correct written word – the – from the group of written words provided

Directly from Light & McNaughten (2011)


• important in word recognition
– trial pronunciation

• plays an important role in understanding what is read
– reading comprehension!


Image from the Florida Center for Instructional Technology clip art web site:


Reading & understanding simple texts
• “Ability to decode or recognize each word in sequence in the text, access the meaning of the words, process the words together in sequence to derive the full meaning of the text, and relate it to prior experience and knowledge”

(Light & McNaughten, 2011, para 10 )


Reading and Understanding Simple Texts: Example Activity
The instructor presents a simple written sentence. The learner
– looks at each of the words in the sentence in the correct sequence – decodes the words, or recognizes them by sight – summarizes the meaning of the sentence by answering two simple questions
• Who is it about? • What happened?
Directly from Light & McNaughten (2011)


Phonological awareness and Language Skills

Studies that show its importance in reading
Torgesen, Wagner, & Rashotte, 1994 Jorm, Share, Maclean, & Matthews, 1989 Cunningham, 1989 Foorman, Francis, Fletcher, Schatschneider, & Mehta, 1998; Lundberg, Frost, & Peterson, 1988 NICHD, 200

Letter Sound Correspondence and Decoding Skills (Phonics) Recognition of Sight Words

- Adams, 1990, 2001 - Foorman et al., 1998 - NICHD, 2000 - Mirenda, 2003 - Fosset & Mirenda, 2006 - Pikulski, 1995 - NICHD, 2000 - Logan, 1997 - Nagy & Scott, 2000 - Baker, Simmons, & Kameenui,1995 - NICHD, 2000 - Baker & Brown, 1984 - Beck & McKeown, 2001

Application of Decoding skills, Reading Simple Texts (Oral Reading Fluency)

Application of Decoding skills, Recognition of Sight Words, Reading Simple Text (Vocabulary) Application of Decoding Skills, Reading Simple Text (Reading Comprehension)


So where is Sally?
– Unable to read or spell – Can write letters by hand – Can recognize letter on a computer keyboard


Recommendations for Sally
Language Skills
Reading and understanding Simple Text

Phonological Awareness

Reading Instruction
Recognition of Sight Words
Letter Sound Correspondence

Application of Decoding Skills

Decoding Skills


What are some challenges to literacy acquisition for children with autism?


Challenge: Working memory (WM)
• “ The term WM describes the ability to store (‘keep online’) information and process the information at the same time.”
(Baltruschat et. al., 2011, p. 268)


Model of Working Memory
• “The majority of WM research has been conducted within Baddeley’s original tripartite framework (Baddeley & Hitch, 1974).” • In this framework, Working Memory is defined as a multidimensional system with three parts that interact:
– Central executive – Phonological loop – Visuospatial sketchpad
quote and summary from (Montgomery, Magimairaj & Finney, 2010, p. 79)


Central Executive: Mission Control
• coordinates and controls activities in the WM • has finite attentional resources that regulate:
– – – – allocation updating sustained attention inhibition

(Montgomery, Magimairaj & Finney, 2010, p. 79)
Edited image from


Phonological Loop
• “slave” to the central executive • Retains verbal information in shortterm memory
(Montgomery, Magimairaj & Finney, 2010, p. 79)


Visuospatial Sketchpad

• Retains visuo-spatial information in shortterm memory

(Montgomery, Magimairaj & Finney, 2010, p. 79)


Working memory in children with autism
• “Research has found evidence of working memory
deficits in individuals with ASD across a wide range of chronological and mental ages (Geurts, Verte, Oosterlaan, Roeyers, & Sergeant,2004; Ozonoff, 1997; Verte, Geurts, Roeyers, Oosterlaan, & Sergeant, 2006; see Hill, 2004 for a recent review).”
(Baltruschat et. al., 2011, p. 268)


How does this impact literacy?
• In a longitudinal study of 98 children, Alloway & Alloway found that “...children’s working memory skills at 5 years of age were the best predictor of literacy and numeracy 6 years later.”
(Alloway & Alloway, 2010, p. 20)


How does this impact literacy?
• blending sounds to decode words • subvocal rehearsal (saying sounds in their heads)

Image from the Florida Center for Instructional Technology clip art web site:


Challenge: Speech Production
• Lack of speech production introduces challenges when assessing ability of the learner to sound out words.


Sample modification for nonverbal “sounding out”

(Light & McNaughton, 2009, p.14)


Challenge: Executive Function
• • • • planning & decision making error correction & troubleshooting category formation organization

Sumiyoshi, Kawakubo, Suga, Sumiyoshi, & Kasai, (2011), p. 252


Challenge: Language Skills
• Comprehension • Written output


Addressing the challenges: Research-based Reading Programs
• Interactive to Independent Literacy Model
– (Kaderavek & Rabidoux)

– Accessible Literacy Learning (Light & McNaughton)

– Early Learning Skills Builder (Browder, Ahlgrim-Delzell, Courtade, Gibbs, Flowers)

– Leveled Literacy Intervention System (Fountas & Pinnell)

• Route 66
– (Partnership between the Centre for Literacy and Disability Studies [CLDS] of the University of North Carolina [UNC] and Benetech)


Interactive to Independent Model
• Explores three different models of literacy learning:
– Social interaction – Participation – Situated Pragmatics

(Kaderavek & Rabidoux, 2004)


Interactive to Independent Model
Social interaction – based on Vygotsky (1978)
“We believe that a child’s literacy development is stunted when the cognitive-linguistic processing of reading… is given preeminence rather than enhancing opportunities for genuine, motivating, communicative literacy interactions.” (Kaderavek & Rabidoux, 2004, p. 242)


Interactive to Independent Model
Participation – based on Beukelman and Mirenda (1998)
“the goal… is to remove any barriers limiting a communicator’s access to social interaction… …we thus view it imperative to eliminate any barriers precluding active literacy participation by nontraditional learners.” (Kaderavek & Rabidoux, 2004, p. 242)


Interactive to Independent Model
Situated Pragmatics – based on Duchan et al. (1994)
“…service providers should develop intervention goals that allow children to participate in naturally occurring contexts… …goals and procedures should fit a child’s experiences and abilities...” (Kaderavek & Rabidoux, 2004, p. 242)


Interactive to Independent Model
• Five levels of communication partnership facilitating literacy development:
Level 1 – focuses on joint attention and the ability to maintain a focus around a shared storybook or literary artifact. Level 2 – interactive balance and turn taking between emergent learner and literacy partner. Level 3 – beginning of symbolic understanding of written forms. Level 4 – conventional literacy supported by social interaction. Level 5 – conventional literacy at independent level.

Accessible Literacy Learning (ALL)
• • • • • Light & McNaughton Comprehensive Scripted – assessment & instruction Adaptations Targeted skill instruction + regular shared reading experiences • Complete set of teaching materials in a binder for each skill area • 3 shared reading books • Not themed

Accessible Literacy Learning (ALL)


Early Literacy Skills Builder (ELSB)
• • • • • Browder, Ahlgrim-Delzell, Courtade, Gibbs, Flowers Comprehensive Scripted – assessment & instruction Adaptations Targeted skill instruction + regular shared reading experiences • Complete set of teaching materials in 6 leveled binders and accompanying student materials • Themed: Moe the Frog

Early Literacy Skills Builder (ELSB)


Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI)
• • • • • Fountas & Pinnell Comprehensive Scripted – assessment & instruction Adaptations * Targeted skill instruction + regular shared reading experiences • Complete set of teaching materials including instruction, ProD, and books • K level program covers 3 reading levels, including 70 titles, 4 copies each

Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI)


Route 66
• Partnership between the Centre for Literacy and Disability Studies (CLDS) of the University of North Carolina (UNC) and Benetec • Web-based program • Not comprehensive in targeted skills instruction like the other programs • Scripted – teacher script alongside student readings • Adaptations • Targeted skill instruction + regular shared reading experiences

Route 66

Images taken from the Route 66 web site trial pages.


Recommendation for Sally
• ALL or ELSB both good for targeted skills
– Need to know Sally’s interests – 10 years old, may find “Moe” character too young

• Opportunities for interactive reading experiences with peers • Content that is meaningful • Reading at home with family


Recommendations for Sally
• “…students with autism can benefit from literacy instruction that incorporates the use of multiple instructional strategies that are carefully matched to the stages or phases of development through which all readers pass on their way from emergent reading to skilled reading.” (Mirenda, 2003, p. 275)


Importance of Literacy
“Literacy is not a luxury, it is a right and a responsibility. If our world is to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century we must harness the energy and creativity of ALL our citizens.”
- President Clinton on International Literacy Day, 8 Sept 1994.


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