Evaluation of a combined explicit–implicit approach to teach grammatical forms to children with grammatical weaknesses

Lizbeth Finestack, Jennifer Engman, Timothy Huang, Katherine J. Bangert, Kaela Bader

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Purpose: Many children with developmental disorders experience difficulty mastering grammatical forms, including children with developmental language disorder and a subset of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). One of the key language features in both of these populations is a weakness in the expressive use of grammatical forms. There is a paucity of studies that evaluate the effectiveness of interventions targeting grammatical forms for populations other than developmental language disorder. The current study evaluated a combined explicit– implicit intervention approach to teach grammatical forms to children with ASD symptomology. Method: Researchers used a single-subject, nonconcurrent multiple baseline, A-B-C study design. Three children with characteristics of ASD (2 with formal diagnoses) between the ages of 5 and 9 years participated in treatment targeting a weak grammatical structure. After baseline, each participant completed a series of treatment sessions that comprised implicit instruction, followed by a series of treatment sessions that incorporated explicit instruction. Accuracy of use was assessed during each session across baseline, implicit-only, and explicit–implicit conditions as well as 1 week, 1 month, and 2 months posttreatment. Results: All participants produced target forms with low accuracy across baseline and implicit-only treatment sessions. Within three explicit–implicit treatment sessions, all participants demonstrated a marked increase in level and upward trend in their production accuracy. Gains in accuracy were maintained 2 months posttreatment for 2 of the 3 participants. Conclusions: The current study provides preliminary evidence to support the use of explicit approaches to teach grammatical forms to children with ASD symptomology and motivates further investigation in this area.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-79
Number of pages17
JournalAmerican journal of speech-language pathology
Volume29
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2020

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