Reading Development: Exploring the Lived Experiences of Individuals with High Functioning Autism
Reading expands learning opportunities for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) by improving their communication and functional skills, and, in the long run, improving their quality of life. Research is needed to gain a better understanding of how individuals with autism experience their reading development from their own perspectives and the perspectives of their parents. Our knowledge of the experiences of individuals with ASD can be expanded by listening to and reflecting on their voices. Therefore, this study empowered four young adults with High Functioning Autism (HFA) and their parents to share stories and experiences about these young adults’ reading development from early childhood through adolescence. A qualitative multiple-case design was used. Data sources included eight one-on-one semi-structured interviews, researcher’s field notes, and a reflective journal. Qualitative analysis led to eight emergent cross-case themes: 1) differences and similarities in reading profiles, 2) advantage in expository text, 3) challenges in reading, 4) reading strategies, 5) behaviour support, 6) interest and motivation, 7) supportive parents, and 8) different school experiences. Based on rich, in-depth descriptions, this study sheds light on the diverse and varied experiences of four young adults with HFA in their reading development from early childhood through adolescence. The findings of this study help to fill the gap by adding voices of individuals with HFA and their parents. The findings provide researchers with recommendations on case study design and interviews with individuals with HFA, educators with suggestions for instructional practices, and parents with practical guidance.
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