Development and implementation of visual scaffolds to support students with autism spectrum disorder in inclusive classrooms

Author: Mary Gabrielle Wilcock

Wilcock, Mary Gabrielle, 2014 Development and implementation of visual scaffolds to support students with autism spectrum disorder in inclusive classrooms, Flinders University, School of Health Sciences

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Commonwealth Government legislation requires that Australian inclusive Primary School education provides for meaningful participation for all students with or without a disability. At the New South Wales State Government level, the NSW Foundation Statements (NSW Board of Studies) contain a list of required student learning outcomes. Many of these rely upon student comprehension of orally presented, curriculum based learning.

For many students with Autism Spectrum Disorder, however, comprehension of orally presented learning is made very difficult by information processing impairments (Jordan & Jones, 1997; Prior, 2003). For many of these students, curriculum access requires additional support and resources.

This research study focuses upon the development and implementation of a visual scaffold to support comprehension of vocabulary for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Development of the scaffold was based upon an understanding of both the deficits and strengths that characterise autism.

The aims of the research were, firstly, to examine the comprehension of classroom oral instructional language by children with autism spectrum disorder and secondly, to develop the visual scaffold to support those students in inclusive classrooms. The system of analysis that allowed for measurement of both teacher and participant levels of language abstraction was based on the work of Blank, Rose and Berlin (1978; 2003).

The eight participants in the study were enrolled in one of three inclusive Primary Schools in Sydney. Each participant was provided with six visual scaffolds chosen from each of the four main curriculum areas of English, Human Society and Its Environment (HSIE), Mathematics and Science.

The research used a within subject, single-case, multiple baseline across content design. The results demonstrated that the improvement in student vocabulary knowledge was directly related to use of the visual scaffold as the research intervention.

Keywords: Autism Spectrum Disorder, primary schools, inclusive classrooms, visual scaffolds, comprehension of vocabulary, oral instructional language

Subject: Disability Studies thesis, Health Sciences thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2014
School: School of Health Sciences
Supervisor: Dr Paul Jewell