Print Concept Knowledge in Young Children with Autism: Why Should it be Impaired and What are the Implications for Intervention?

Assignment type: Essay
Author: Sophie Smith
Submitted: November 2018

Emergent literacy skills are developmental precursors to formal literacy. They are predictive of later reading and writing ability. Identifying children with poor emergent literacy can increase the likelihood of timely intervention. Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are a group at risk of poor reading comprehension. However, there is relatively little research into their emergent literacy. It is often cited that they show a pattern of strong code-related and poor meaning-focused skills. There is a problem with using these composites, as children with ASD show strengths and weaknesses within the code-related domain, where letter naming is good, but print concept knowledge (PCK) is impaired. PCK relates to knowledge of print function and conventions and the organisation of books. In this essay, reasons for this discrepancy are explored. It is argued that weak central coherence in children with ASD can account for their ability to process local features such as letters but not global book features such as the front cover. This is exacerbated by adults who may find it challenging to engage these children in literacy activities, and therefore show an instructional bias towards the skills they already show aptitude and interest in. Based on this explanation, possible interventions are considered. These include systematic, explicit instructional techniques such as print referencing and task analysis, as well as interest development strategies to encourage motivation for looking at books. It is concluded that educational psychologists (EPs) should play a role in evaluating and promoting these strategies to improve PCK in children with ASD.

Download (PDF)