Reading and Writing

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 173–183 | Cite as

A preliminary exploration of uppercase letter-name knowledge among students with significant cognitive disabilities

  • Claire W. GreerEmail author
  • Karen A. Erickson


There are several factors known to impact the alphabet knowledge of young children without disabilities. The impact of these factors on the alphabet knowledge of students with significant cognitive disabilities is unknown. The purpose of this preliminary investigation was to explore the impact of three factors that might influence uppercase alphabet knowledge among students with significant cognitive disabilities: own name, letter order in the alphabet string, and letter frequency. Archival data documenting identification of each of the 26 uppercase letters of the alphabet for 131 8- to 21-year-old students were analyzed using a multilevel logistic regression model. While the use of extant data has limitations, results indicated that own-name advantage gave students a 10% greater likelihood of knowing the first letter of their own first name/nickname than any other alphabet letter. Letter-order analysis showed there were differences between letters found earlier in the alphabet string versus those that were found later in the alphabet string; however, the results were not statistically significant. Letter-frequency analysis did not reveal a significant impact of frequency on letter name knowledge in this sample. The findings provide preliminary evidence that at least some of the factors that influence alphabet knowledge in young children without disabilities also impact students with significant cognitive disabilities and point to the need for more research in this area.


Significant cognitive disabilities Alphabet knowledge Literacy Own-name advantage Letter-order hypothesis Letter-frequency hypothesis 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Literacy and Disability Studies, Department of Allied Health SciencesUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA

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