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An investigation into the phonological awareness skills in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) McGee, Cheryl Lynn

Abstract

Phonological awareness is the reflection on or manipulation of speech sounds within words. Many studies have shown phonological awareness (PA) to be highly correlated with literacy skills, with children with language impairments often being delayed in acquisition of both. However, no research has been conducted to date describing the nature of PA skills for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Thus, the present study was designed to evaluate the phonological awareness skills of 11 children with ASD, ranging in age from 5 to 9 years. Five phonological awareness tasks targeting syllable, rime, and phoneme levels were administered, along with a pre-literacy (letter-sound identification) task. Four children scored above chance on all PA tasks, three were successful on two tasks, and four children did not complete any of the tasks. Four children achieved some success in subsequent teaching trials. Correlational analyses revealed significant relationships between performance on PA measures and language comprehension scores, percent consonant match (i.e., phonological production), and pre-literacy skills. According to a regression analysis, language comprehension scores and phonological production contributed most to the variance in performance on PA tasks. Children with ASD are thus similar to children with language impairment of other origins with respect to the interaction of language, phonology, and phonological awareness skills. Implications for future research and clinical intervention are discussed.

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