Authors: Spector JE
Title: Sight Word Instruction for Students with Autism: An Evaluation of the Evidence Base
Source: Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 2011 41(10): 1411-1422
Year: 2011
Research Design: Systematic Review

This paper reviews the evidence on sight word instruction as a method of teaching students with autism and significant cognitive and verbal limitations to read printed words. Nine single-subject studies were rated using Reichow et al.’s (J Autism Dev Disord 38:1311–1319, 2008) evaluative method for identifying evidence-based practice, and studies with at least adequate methodology were analyzed to identify common intervention features. Results yielded evidence in support of a massed trials approach featuring student response to a succession of items, differential positive reinforcement, systematic prompting, and use of visual supports. Across studies, students learned to identify printed words, even those with limited oral language and no prior reading instruction. However, no studies addressed the effects of sight word instruction on broad literacy outcomes.

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