Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 46, Issue 7, pp 2490–2500 | Cite as

Comparing Children with ASD and Their Peers’ Growth in Print Knowledge

  • Jaclyn M. DyniaEmail author
  • Matthew E. Brock
  • Jessica A. R. Logan
  • Laura M. Justice
  • Joan N. Kaderavek
Original Paper


Many children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) struggle with reading. An increased focus on emergent literacy skills—particularly print knowledge—might improve later reading outcomes. We analyzed longitudinal measures of print knowledge (i.e., alphabet knowledge and print-concept knowledge) for 35 preschoolers with ASD relative to a sample of 35 typically developing peers. Through multilevel growth curve analysis, we found that relative to their peers, children with ASD had comparable alphabet knowledge, lower print-concept knowledge, and acquired both skills at a similar rate. These findings suggest that children with ASD are unlikely to acquire print-concept knowledge commensurate to their peers without an increased emphasis on high-quality instruction that targets this skill.


Autism Emergent literacy Print knowledge 



The research was supported by U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences Grant R324A080037.

Author Contributions

JD developed the study, participated in its design and coordination and drafted the manuscript; MB participated in the design and interpretation of the data; JAR participated in the design, performed the measurement, and performed the statistical analysis; LJ and JK conceived of the larger study, and participated in its design and coordination. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


  1. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, (dsm-5 ® ). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.Google Scholar
  2. Baker, J. N., Spooner, F., Ahlgrim-Delzell, L., Flowers, C., & Browder, D. M. (2010). A measure of emergent literacy for students with severe developmental disabilities. Psychology in the Schools, 47(5), 501–513.Google Scholar
  3. Benedek-Wood, E., Mcnaughton, D., & Light, J. (2015). Instruction in letter-sound correspondences for children with autism and limited speech. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education. doi: 10.1177/0271121415593497.Google Scholar
  4. Boucher, J., Mayes, A., & Bigham, S. (2012). Memory in autistic spectrum disorder. Psychological Bulletin, 138(3), 458–496.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Boudreau, D. M., & Hedberg, N. L. (1999). A comparison of early literacy skills in children with specific language impairment and their typically developing peers. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 8(3), 249–260. doi: 10.1044/1058-0360.0803.249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cabell, S. Q., Justice, L. M., Zucker, T. A., & McGinty, A. S. (2009). Emergent name-writing abilities of preschool-age children with language impairment. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 40(1), 53. doi: 10.1044/0161-1461(2008/07-0052).CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Davidson, M. M., & Ellis Weismer, S. (2014). Characterization and prediction of early reading abilities in children on the autism spectrum. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 44(4), 828–845. doi: 10.1007/s10803-013-1936-2.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  8. Dynia, J. M., Lawton, K., Logan, J. A., & Justice, L. M. (2014). Comparing emergent-literacy skills and home-literacy environment of children with autism and their peers. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education. doi: 10.1177/0271121414536784.Google Scholar
  9. Gillam, R. B., & Johnston, J. R. (1985). Development of print awareness in language-disordered preschoolers. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 28(4), 521–526. doi: 10.1044/jshr.2804.521.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Hammill, D. D. (2004). What we know about correlates of reading. Exceptional Children, 70(4), 453–468.Google Scholar
  11. Hayes, S. (1990). Nine ducks nine. New York: Lothrop, Lee and Shepard Books.Google Scholar
  12. Heller, R., & Greenleaf, C. L. (2007). Literacy instruction in the content areas: Getting to the core of middle and high school improvement. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education.Google Scholar
  13. Invernizzi, M. A. (2010). Pals k technical reference: Virginia State Department of Education.Google Scholar
  14. Invernizzi, M. A., Sullivan, A., Meier, J. D., & Swank, L. (2004). Phonological awareness literacy screening for preschool: Teacher’s manual. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia.Google Scholar
  15. Jacobs, D. W., & Richdale, A. L. (2013). Predicting literacy in children with a high-functioning autism spectrum disorder. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 34(8), 2379–2390. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2013.04.007.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Jones, C. R., Happé, F., Golden, H., Marsden, A. J., Tregay, J., Simonoff, E., & Charman, T. (2009). Reading and arithmetic in adolescents with autism spectrum disorders: Peaks and dips in attainment. Neuropsychology, 23(6), 718–728. doi: 10.1037/a0016360.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Justice, L. M., Bowles, R. P., & Skibbe, L. E. (2006). Measuring preschool attainment of print-concept knowledge: A study of typical at-risk 3- to 5-year-old children using item response theory. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 37(3), 224–235. doi: 10.1044/0161-1461(2006/024).CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Justice, L. M., Kaderavek, J. N., Fan, X., Sofka, A. E., & Hunt, A. (2009). Accelerating preschoolers’ early literacy development through classroom-based teacher-child storybook reading and explicit print referencing. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 40(1), 67–85. doi: 10.1044/0161-1461(2008/07-0098).CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Justice, L. M., Logan, J. A. R., Kaderavek, J. N., & Dynia, J. M. (2015). Print-focused read-alouds in early childhood special education programs. Exceptional Children. doi: 10.1177/0014402914563693.Google Scholar
  20. Justice, L. M., Skibbe, L. E., McGinty, A. S., Piasta, S. B., & Petrill, S. A. (2011). Feasibility, efficacy, and social validity of home-based storybook reading intervention for children with language impairment. Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, 54(2), 523–538. doi: 10.1044/1092-4388(2010/09-0151).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kamps, D. M., Barbetta, P. M., Leonard, B. R., & Delquadri, J. (1994). Classwide peer tutoring: An integration strategy to improve reading skills and promote peer interactions among students with autism and general education peers. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 27(1), 49–61.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  22. Koppenhaver, D. A., & Erickson, K. A. (2003). Natural emergent literacy supports for preschoolers with autism and severe communication impairments. Topics in Language Disorders, 23(4), 283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lanter, E., Watson, L. R., Erickson, K. A., & Freeman, D. (2012). Emergent literacy in children with autism: An exploration of developmental and contextual dynamic processes. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 43(3), 308–324. doi: 10.1044/0161-1461(2012/10-0083).CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Lanter, E., Freeman, D., & Dove, S. (2013). Procedural and conceptual print-related achievements in young children with autism spectrum disorders. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 28(1), 14–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Levin, I., Shatil-Carmon, S., & Asif-Rave, O. (2006). Learning of letter names and sounds and their contribution to word recognition. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 93(2), 139–165.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Logan, J., Justice, L. M., & Pentimonti, J. M. (2014). Ready to read and school success: Kindergarten readiness and the “third grade reading guarantee”. Columbus, OH: Crane Center for Early Childhood Research and Policy, The Ohio State University.Google Scholar
  27. Lonigan, C. J., Burgess, S. R., & Anthony, J. L. (2000). Development of emergent literacy and early reading skills in preschool children: Evidence from a latent-variable longitudinal study. Developmental Psychology, 36(5), 596–613.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Lonigan, C. J., & Whitehurst, G. J. (1998). Relative efficacy of parent and teacher involvement in a shared-reading intervention for preschool children from low-income backgrounds. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 13(2), 263–290. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.1998.tb06247.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Mastropieri, M. A., Scruggs, T. E., & Graetz, J. E. (2003). Reading comprehension instruction for secondary students: Challenges for struggling students and teachers. Learning Disability Quarterly, 26(2), 103–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Minshew, N. J., Goldstein, G., Taylor, H. G., & Siegel, D. J. (1994). Academic achievement in high functioning autistic individuals. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 16(2), 261–270.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Nation, K., Clarke, P., Wright, B., & Williams, C. (2006). Patterns of reading ability in children with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 36(7), 911–919. doi: 10.1007/s10803-006-0130-1.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Nation, K., Cocksey, J., Taylor, J. S., & Bishop, D. V. (2010). A longitudinal investigation of early reading and language skills in children with poor reading comprehension. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 51(9), 1031–1039.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. National Early Literacy Panel. (2008). Developing early literacy. Washington, DC: National Institute for Literacy.Google Scholar
  34. O’connell, A. A., Logan, J. A. R., Pentimonti, J. M., & Mccoach, D. B. (2013). Linear and quadratic growth models for continuous and dichotomous outcomes. In Y. Petscher, C. Schatschneider & D. L. Compton (Eds.), Applied quantitative analysis in education and the social sciences. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  35. Ohio Department of Education. (2004). Kindergarten readiness assessment (kra-l). Retrieved December 7, 2015, from
  36. Piasta, S. B., Justice, L. M., McGinty, A. S., & Kaderavek, J. N. (2012). Increasing young children’s contact with print during shared reading: Longitudinal effects on literacy achievement. Child Development, 83(3), 810–820. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2012.01754.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Raudenbush, S. W., & Bryk, A. S. (2002). Hierarchical linear models: Applications and data analysis methods (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  38. Ricketts, J., Jones, C. R., Happé, F., & Charman, T. (2013). Reading comprehension in autism spectrum disorders: The role of oral language and social functioning. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 43(4), 1–10. doi: 10.1007/s10803-012-1619-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Rosenberg, N. E. (2008). A descriptive analysis of the early literacy skills of preschoolers with autism spectrum disorder. Seattle: University of Washington.Google Scholar
  40. Schatschneider, C., Fletcher, J. M., Francis, D. J., Carlson, C. D., & Foorman, B. R. (2004). Kindergarten prediction of reading skills: A longitudinal comparative analysis. Journal of Educational Psychology, 96(2), 265–282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Travers, J. C., Higgins, K., Pierce, T., Boone, R., Miller, S., & Tandy, R. (2011). Emergent literacy skills of preschool students with autism: A comparison of teacher-led and computer-assisted instruction. Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 46, 326–338.Google Scholar
  42. Wei, X., Christiano, E. R., Jennifer, W. Y., Wagner, M., & Spiker, D. (2015). Reading and math achievement profiles and longitudinal growth trajectories of children with an autism spectrum disorder. Autism, 19(2), 200–210. doi: 10.1177/1362361313516549.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Wiig, E. H., Secord, W. A., & Semel, E. (2004). Clinical evaluation of language fundamentals preschool (2nd ed.). San Antonio, TX: Harcourt Assessment.Google Scholar
  44. Wong, V. C.-N., Fung, C.-W., Lee, S.-L., & Wong, P. T. Y. (2015). Review of evolution of clinical, training and educational services and research program for autism spectrum disorders in hong kong. Science China Life Sciences, 58(10), 991–1009.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jaclyn M. Dynia
    • 1
    Email author
  • Matthew E. Brock
    • 1
  • Jessica A. R. Logan
    • 1
  • Laura M. Justice
    • 1
  • Joan N. Kaderavek
    • 2
  1. 1.Crane Center for Early Childhood Research and Policy EducationThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  2. 2.University of ToledoToledoUSA

Personalised recommendations