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DOI: 10.1080/10862960802659152 “Mother’s Voice Was the Main Source of Learning”: Parents ’ Role in Supporting the Literacy Development of Students with Autism

By Kelly Chandler-olcott, Paula M. Kluth and Independent Scholar


Students with significant disabilities, including those with autism-spectrum labels, are increasingly being included in the regular education classroom for literacy instruction and held to high standards for literacy achievement (Yell, Drasgow, & Lowrey, 2005), but research with these students as participants has been limited, es-pecially in inclusive settings such as the home or classroom. Grounded in perspec-tives from disability studies (Biklen, 2005; Kliewer, Biklen, & Kasa-Hendrickson, 2006) and socio-cultural theories of literacy (Gallego & Hollingsworth, 2000; O’Brien, 2003), this qualitative study used inductive methods (Strauss & Corbin, 1998) to analyze the literacy-related messages of 16 autobiographies authored by individuals on the autism spectrum. Analysis revealed a key role for parents in supporting their children’s literacy development at home, with results clustering in these three areas: (a) parents ’ persistence in following small cues related to literacy development, (b) their use of literacy to make social codes explicit, and (c) their strategic employment of support to ensure their children’s success with literacy while increasing challenges over time. Implications for practice and research are discussed, with an emphasis on collaborative inquiry with learners on the autism spectrum and their parents

Year: 2016
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