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Lang Speech Hear Serv Sch. 2012 Jul;43(3):308-24. doi: 10.1044/0161-1461(2012/10-0083). Epub 2012 Feb 2.

Emergent literacy in children with autism: an exploration of developmental and contextual dynamic processes.

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Radford University, Radford, VA, USA.



This investigation describes emergent literacy skills, print motivation, and home literacy environments in a linguistically diverse group of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).


Emergent literacy skills were directly assessed in 41 children between the ages of 4 and 8 years. Parent report was solicited to provide additional information concerning the children's emergent literacy skills, as well as their print motivation and home literacy environments. The achievements of children with differential language abilities were compared, and associations among the children's language and emergent literacy abilities were explored.


Narrowly, children with typical language achieved significantly higher scores on an emergent literacy composite than those with mild-to-moderate or severe language impairments; broadly, these scores were highly correlated (ρ = .56) with the children's language. Skill performance was varied but was characterized by relative strengths in discrete skills, such as letter name identification, and weaknesses in more holistic skills, such as print functions. Parents generally described the children as being motivated by print materials and the home environments as offering high levels of parent-child engagement in literacy activities.


Profiles were associated with language and were illustrated by heterogeneity with potentially unequal achievements between code- and meaning-based skills. Implications for speech-language pathologists and other educators are provided.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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