Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 48, Issue 7, pp 2542–2557 | Cite as

Scripted and Unscripted Science Lessons for Children with Autism and Intellectual Disability

  • Victoria F. Knight
  • Belva Collins
  • Amy D. Spriggs
  • Emily Sartini
  • Margaret Janey MacDonald
Original Paper


Both scripted lessons and unscripted task analyzed lessons have been used effectively to teach science content to students with intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder. This study evaluated the efficacy, efficiency, and teacher preference of scripted and unscripted task analyzed lesson plans from an elementary science curriculum designed for students with intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder by evaluating both lesson formats for (a) student outcomes on a science comprehension assessment, (b) sessions to criterion, and (c) average duration of lessons. Findings propose both lesson types were equally effective, but unscripted task analyzed versions may be more efficient and were preferred by teachers to scripted lessons. Implications, limitations, and suggestions for future research are also discussed.


Autism spectrum disorder Intellectual disability Science education Access to the general education Scripted lesson plans Task analysis 



We would like to thank the following teachers and their students for their assistance in research: Emmaline Keubler and Megan Traynor, Woodford County Schools. Also, thank you to Ryane Williamson and Alyssa Carney for their contributions to this project.

Author Contributions

VFK conceived of the presented idea, trained the teachers, and created measurement/data collection tools. VFK outlined the procedures and the unique contributions of the study. VFK and BC determined the analytical methods. VFK, BC, ADS, and ES collected data. MJM assisted in data entry and graphing data. VFK supervised the findings of this work. All authors contributed to the results, writing, editing, revisions, and the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The first author currently receives royalties from the published version of the curriculum used in the current study. At the time the study was conducted, a published version of the curriculum did not exist. Further, the curriculum contains both scripted and unscripted lesson versions so the first author does not recognize a direct benefit to finding one more beneficial than the other. Finally, the first author did not directly implement the study, and only assisted in the collection of interobserver reliability and procedural fidelity data. Finally, a management plan was approved by the University of Kentucky based on the COI.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Victoria F. Knight
    • 1
    • 6
  • Belva Collins
    • 2
  • Amy D. Spriggs
    • 3
  • Emily Sartini
    • 4
  • Margaret Janey MacDonald
    • 5
  1. 1.Vanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  2. 2.University of North Carolina at CharlotteCharlotteUSA
  3. 3.UK College of EducationUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA
  4. 4.Department of Curriculum and InstructionWestern Illinois UniversityMacombUSA
  5. 5.Explore Community SchoolNashvilleUSA
  6. 6.Department of Special EducationVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA

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