Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

A Comparison of Discrete Trial Teaching with and without Gestures/Signs in Teaching Receptive Language Skills to Children with Autism

Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

A Comparison of Discrete Trial Teaching with and without Gestures/Signs in Teaching Receptive Language Skills to Children with Autism

Article excerpt

Abstract

The present study was designed to compare the effectiveness and efficiency of two discrete trial teaching procedures for teaching receptive language skills to children with autism. While verbal instructions were delivered alone during the first procedure, all verbal instructions were combined with simple gestures and/or signs during the second procedure when teaching receptive language skills by using discrete trial teaching. A parallel treatments design was used to compare the differential effects of the two procedures on the acquisition of the receptive language skills. Two students with autism participated in the study. The results of the study showed that the discrete trial teaching procedure in which verbal instructions were combined with simple gestures and/or signs was slightly more effective and efficient on promoting the acquisition of receptive language skills for both students. Discrete trial teaching procedure in which verbal instructions were delivered alone was not effective for any of the training sets across students.

Key Words

Discrete Trial Teaching, Autism, Language and Communication, and Receptive Language Skills.

One of the most distinctive features of children with autism is their limited language and communication skills. For this reason, the problems observed in language and communication development are among the basic elements taken into consideration in diagnosing autism (Paul & Wilson, 2009). The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) published by American Psychiatric Association (2000) is one of the most frequently applied sources in diagnosing children with autism (Kircaali-Iftar, 2003). According to diagnostic criteria presented in this source, some problems observed in language and communication fields are classified as late speaking or never speaking, difficulty in starting or continuing communication, extraordinary or repetitive use of language, disability in games skills appropriate for their developmental levels. It is determined that social interaction problems and restricted/ repetitive interests and behaviors, which are the other basic factors taken into consideration when diagnosing children affected by autism spectrum disorder, are closely related to the problems observed in language and communication fields (American Psychiatric Association; Landa, 2007; Sturmey & Fitzer, 2009). The difficulties in language and communication skills in autism affect cognitive and social development; in addition, it can cause behavior problems. Therefore, the applications for developing language and communication skills constitutes one of the most important interests for researchers and practitioners working in the field of autism spectrum disorder (Sigafoos, O'Reilly, Schlosser, & Lancioni, 2007; Webber & Scheuermann, 2008).

Children with autism live through difficulties related to receptive language skills as well as verbal expressive language skills (Goldstein, 2002; Peterson, Bondy, Vincent, & Finnegan, 1995; Preis, 2006). However, in spite of the difficulties encountered both in expressive and receptive language skills, a great number of publications on language and communication issues in autism evaluate issues related to expressive language skills. There is limited number of studies related to receptive language in autism spectrum disorder (Light, Roberts, Dimarco, & Greiner, 1998; Preis; Schlosser & Wendt, 2008; Tager-Flusberg, Paul, & Lord, 2005). In these studies, receptive language was generally examined in terms of the developmental aspect in autism spectrum disorder (Attwood, Frith, & Hermelin, 1988; Lord, 1995; Smith & Bryson, 2007); however, it is clear that there is limited research for guiding practitioners on teaching receptive language skills to children with autism effectively and efficiently.

One of the most commonly used methods in teaching language and communication skills to children with autism is Discrete Trial Teaching (DTT). …

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