Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


41st Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2015

Event Details

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Symposium #332
CE Offered: BACB
Current Status and Future Directions of Technology to Teach Academics to Students with Autism
Monday, May 25, 2015
10:00 AM–11:50 AM
210AB (CC)
Area: EDC/AUT; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Fred Spooner (University of North Carolina, Charlotte)
Discussant: Robert C. Pennington (University of Louisville)
CE Instructor: Julie L. Thompson, Ph.D.
Abstract: Focus on evidence-based practices (EBP) has shifted attention in the field to careful analysis of the quality and quantity of evidence for a given population or intervention (Horner et al., 2005). Technology assisted instruction and interventions have been labeled as an EBP for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (Wong et al., 2014). Literature reviews on technology-assisted instruction to teach academics to students with autism have found gaps related to breadth of content and quality (Pennington, 2010; Knight, McKissick, & Saunders, 2013). No analyses to date have evaluated participant characteristics, instructional formats, contexts, or procedures. This session will include: (a) review of the literature on the use of technology interventions for culturally and linguistically diverse students with autism, (b) review of the evidence base on computer-assisted instruction to teach academics to students with autism with focus on instructional formats, contexts, and procedures. Additionally, this presentation will include reports on two studies: (a) a recent investigation of systematic delivery of a phonics curriculum via an iPad for students with moderate to severe intellectual disability and autism, and (b) a recent evaluation of the effects of systematic instruction and computer-assisted instruction to teach students with autism a story mapping procedure on an iPad.
Keyword(s): Academics, Autism, Computer-Assisted Instruction, Technology
Technology Interventions for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder
JULIE L. THOMPSON (Michigan State University), Jenny Root (University of North Carolina at Charlotte)
Abstract: Research on the use of technology to support individuals with ASD has demonstrated great promise; however, few studies include diverse or non-English speaking students (Kasari & Smith, 2013; West, 2013). A recent review on technology for secondary students with ASD identified 31 studies; only two included racially diverse participants and none included linguistically diverse participants. In order to improve research to practice for diverse individuals with autism it is important to identify what research has been implemented with diverse populations and the effectiveness of the research. Based on the limited inclusion of diverse participants in research, there is concern that practices identified as evidence-based may not be effective for some culturally and linguistically diverse individuals, or may need substantial adaptations to demonstrate effectiveness (West, 2013). The current review extends previous reviews of technology by targeting studies that include culturally and/or linguistically diverse participants with ASD from pre-kindergarten through adulthood. Out of 55 total studies identified, only 10 reported ethnicity and/or linguistic diversity. Diverse students performed similar or better than white participants in 7/8 studies that disaggregated data. Implications for individuals with ASD, families, and practitioners will be discussed. In addition, suggestions for future research will be provided.
Computer-Assisted Instruction to Teach Academics to Students with Autism: Analysis of the Evidence Base
Jenny Root (University of North Carolina at Charlotte), BRADLEY STEVENSON (University of North Carolina Charlotte), David W. Test (University of North Carolina, Charlotte)
Abstract: The frequency and quality of the studies evaluating the effects of computer-assisted instruction are increasing as the benefits become widely known and technology becomes more accessible and adaptive to the needs of this population (Root et al., 2014). While technology-assisted instruction has been labeled an EBP for students with autism, computer-assisted instruction specifically for academic learning is a promising practice (Knight, McKissick, & Saunders, 2013; Pennington, 2010). The question remains about its effectiveness in academics overall as well as each content area. Furthermore, the literature on computer-assisted instruction varies in implementation and components of the independent variable, making inferences of generalization cautious. Out of 49 identified studies, 22 were of high quality (Horner et al., 2005), with 15 out of 22 teaching literacy skills. The high quality studies were further analyzed in terms of context of instruction, form of instructional technology, and specific instructional procedures. Instruction and/or prompting based on the principles of applied behavior analysis were present in all high quality studies. Implications for practitioners and directions for future research will be discussed.
Phonics Instruction for Students who are Nonverbal with Moderate/Severe Intellectual Disability and Autism
Lynn Ahlgrim-Delzell (University of North Carolina at Charlotte), Diane Browder (University of North Carolina Charlotte), LEAH WOOD (California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo), Angela Preston (University of North Carolina at Charlotte), Amy Kemp-Inman (University of North Carolina at Charlotte)
Abstract: Individuals with moderate or severe developmental disabilities (i.e., intellectual disabilities, autism) and especially those who are nonverbal, have limited opportunities for learning the foundations of literacy. Students who successfully gain early literacy skills may still have difficulty moving on to other reading programs that require oral participation. This study reports results of a repeated measures randomized control trial of 32 students with moderate or severe disability who are nonverbal. Students were randomly assigned to treatment (i.e., phonics instruction) or control (i.e., another literacy program) conditions for eight months. Students in the control condition participated in their classroom’s typical non-phonics literacy routines using an iPad™. Students in the treatment condition received phonics instruction using the iPad™ and a phonics curriculum based on principles of applied behavior analysis. Skills taught included phoneme identification, blending, segmenting, decoding, and reading comprehension. Classroom teachers delivered one lesson per student per day for approximately 15 minutes. Monthly data consisted of a curriculum-based assessment and a distal measure of reading (Nonverbal Literacy Assessment). Data were analyzed using a repeated measures ANOVA comparing pretest/posttest scores and treatment/comparison groups. There were statistically significant interaction effects for three of the four comparisons including identification of individual phonemes, decoding, and total score.
Electronic Story Mapping to Teach Comprehension of Narrative Texts by Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder
JENNY ROOT (University of North Carolina at Charlotte), Diane Browder (University of North Carolina Charlotte), Leah Wood (California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo), Caryn Allison (UNC Charlotte)
Abstract: Comprehension of text is a pivotal skill, yet there is a paucity of research on how to teach it to individuals with ASD (Browder et al., 2006; Chang & Lin, 2007). This study evaluated the effects of an intervention that paired systematic instruction and computer assisted instruction, specifically an electronic story mapping procedure delivered via an iPad, to teach comprehension skills related to story elements to students with ASD. Students were taught to identify story element definitions using constant time delay. Students then listened to age-appropriate narrative texts with a problem-solution structure, completed an electronic story map, and answered related questions. If unable to complete the map or answer questions, a least to most prompting hierarchy was used, including referring to the electronic story map, and rereading portions of the text. Outcomes of the multiple probe across participants design show a functional relation between the intervention and identification of story element definitions, labeling of a story element map on an iPad, and expressive comprehension of story element questions. Implications for future research and practice will be discussed.



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