• Curriculum project.

      DiGiulio, Lauri A. (28/03/2013)
      The goal of this curriculum project is to present effective strategies to differentiate instruction to develop reading comprehension in emergent readers with autism. I designed a supplementary curriculum in reading comprehension for first grade students with autism, based on the Scott Foresman Reading Street program. In the literature review I address research that connects to reading comprehension and young readers with autism. I discuss the definition of autism, and how the disability has grown recently. I also discuss reading comprehension for typical emergent readers, along with emergent readers with autism. Finally, I discuss differentiated instruction, and how to differentiate for students with autism. I created 15 supplemental lesson plans that contain strategies to help students with autism for 15 stories that are included in this basal reading program. The lesson plans align with both the Common Core Standards and the New York State English Language Arts standards.
    • Effectiveness of the picture exchange communication system for preschool children with special needs.

      Drozdiel, Sonja L. (03/01/2013)
      Young children on the Autism Spectrum Disorder have poor communication and interpersonal skills. As a result, they are at great risk for numerous adverse academic and behavioral outcomes. A considerable amount of research suggests, however, that the Picture Communication Exchange System, an augmentative and alternative communication system improve students with ASD’s communicative competence and reduce behavioral disruptions. The present study examined the effects of PECS on the independent interactions of three, preschool males with ASD. The classroom teacher and teaching assistant used PECS whenever target students began to struggle or appeared to be on the verge of emotional outbursts. Findings indicated that PECS produced positive but variable improvements in pupil performance across both communication and interpersonal skills. Implications for practitioners and future researchers are provided.
    • The Use of Musical and Visual Interventions for Transitions in Children with Autism.

      McGarry, Erin M. (2013-10-24)
      The purpose of this descriptive survey study was to describe teachers' and therapists' reported use and perceptions of musical and visual transition interventions they use to help children with autism at an early childhood special education program. The perceived effectiveness was defined as the educational support team's perceptions of the effects musical interventions and visual interventions have on transition behaviors. Participants (N=19) were certified special education teachers and therapists who were employed by the early childhood program. An online survey consisting of 16 questions was sent electronically to participants via the employee email system. The survey questions consisted of five sections based on demographic information and the following research questions: 1) How often do teachers and therapists report using music interventions, visual interventions, or a combination of musical and visual interventions to aide children who have autism? 2) Which intervention is perceived to be the most effective? 3) What is the perceived effectiveness of musical interventions, visual interventions, and a combination of musical and visual interventions on social and communicative responsiveness in children with autism? and 4)What strategies do teachers and therapist use when selecting a transition intervention (musical, visual, or a combination of musical and visual) for children who have autism? Data from this survey was also analyzed for variation in perceptions based on professional background. The results showed participants used more musical interventions than visual interventions or a combination of musical and visual interventions, with 50% (n=9) stating they almost always used music when addressing transition behaviors. The results of this study also indicated a combination of musical and visual interventions was perceived as the most effective transition intervention by the teachers and therapists at this early childhood program, as almost all of the participants (n=18, 85.74%) chose this method as the most effective. Nine of these participants reported the musical component should be emphasized when combining musical and visual interventions, while the other nine reported the visual component should be emphasized. In regards to promoting social responsiveness and communication in children with autism, an overwhelming majority of the teachers and therapists in this study (17 out of 19 participants for the social responsiveness category, and 18 out of 19 participants for the communication category) reported a combination of musical and visual interventions was the most effective method for promoting these two key areas of need. When using this combined intervention approach, the musical component was reported as the most important modality in promoting social responsiveness (52.63%, n=l 0), while the visual component was reported as the most important modality in promoting communication (52.63%, n=IO). The results of this study also suggested that the individual needs and preferences of the child were a major factor professionals consider when selecting a transition intervention, as all of the participants in the study (n=19) reported this as a factor. It is the researcher's hope that these results may be used to inform our understanding of which interventions are perceived to be the most effective for children with autism. This study, along with future research, may help to improve transitional performance for children with autism. Keywords and themes for this study include "autism," "music therapy," and "transitions."
    • Using effective strategies for the elementary English Language Learner with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

      Szymkowiak, Claire M. (12/11/2013)
      There exists a gap in literature between students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and English Language Learners (ELLs) (Petersen, Marinova-Todd, & Mirenda, 2012). While literature does examine the best effective strategies for students with ASD or those specific for ELLs, few studies have presented educators with instructional strategies designed for the ELL with ASD in their classrooms (Fernandez y Garcia, Breslau, Hansen, & Miller, 2012; Hambly & Fombonne, 2012). This curriculum project synthesizes current research on the two subjects separately, combining to find the best effective strategies that are aligned between the two. From that, the project outlines a leveled curriculum to be used with autistic ELLs at any stage of the English language proficiency, at the elementary level. The curriculum integrates typical elementary English as a Second Language (ESL) classroom content with the language skills necessary for students to interact and communicate with the world around them. Additionally, each lesson highlights a different strategy referred to in the literature to aid student learning the classroom. Some of the strategies include visual presentations, picture communication, and using textbooks specifically geared towards Autistic children. The curriculum is easily interpretable due its varied nature, therefore, available for general education, special education, or ESL classroom teachers. Teachers can use these lessons in order to provide more meaningful instruction for ELLs with ASD, allowing students to gain vocabulary and communication skills needed for success in the academic and social worlds of their lives.