AN INVESTIGATION OF ASSESSMENT METHODS FOR EXAMINING THE PRODUCTION OF REQUESTS FOR INFORMATION BY YOUNG CHILDREN WITH AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS
Donaldson, Amy Lynn
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This study investigated the use of static assessment (SA) and dynamic assessment (DA) methodologies for examining the production of requests for information (RI) by children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD; N=14) and typically developing peers (TDP; N=12) within their school environment. The effects of manipulating contextual and linguistic variables on production of RI were systematically investigated across five assessment sessions as follows: Static Assessment 1 (SA1) was completed in the classroom with typical objects/activities and no linguistic modifications; SA2 was completed in the classroom with highlymotivating objects/activities and no linguistic modifications; Dynamic Assessment 1 (DA1) was completed in the classroom with highly-motivating objects/activities and use of a linguistic cueing hierarchy to facilitate production of RI; DA2 was completed with a classroom peer in an on-site treatment room with highlymotivating objects/activities and use of the linguistic cueing hierarchy; SA3 mirrored the conditions of SA2. Independent and paired t-test comparisons revealed statistically significant differences in production of RI between the TDP group and a subgroup of children with ASD (the ASD group was subdivided into two RI subgroups: high-performers and low-performers). Children in the ASD low-performer subgroup produced significantly fewer RI during SA1 than children in the TDP group and the ASD high-performer subgroup; whereas children in the ASD high-performer subgroup performed similarly to the TDP group. Manipulation of the contextual variable of object/activity choice appeared to influence production of RI; children in ASD low-performer subgroup demonstrated increased production of RI during SA2, when highly-preferred objects/activities were made available in the classroom, as compared to SA1 when typical objects/activities were offered. Comparison of performance across the two physical settings (classroom versus treatment room) revealed no statistically significant differences in production of RI for the TDP group and both ASD subgroups. Results of this study set a benchmark of RI production by typically developing peers from which to compare the performance of children with ASD to determine if the child truly presents with a RI production deficit. Manipulation of contextual and linguistic variables appeared to facilitate increased production of RI by the ASD low-performer subgroup. Clinical implications and future research directions are discussed.
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