Chair, Special Education, School Psychology, & Measurement & Statistics Research Associate, CHDD
I am focused on ensuring all students reach their potential in reading and writing. I do this through school-based research focused on interventions designed to help children with disabilities learn to read and through teacher education focused on ensuring all of our beginning special education teachers graduate ready to teach reading to a wide range of children. I have done extensive professional development on intensive reading intervention and differentiating instruction with school districts and regions in Washington, Massachusetts, New York, Florida.
Preschool Autism Literacy Project, NICHD grant R01HD072143
Abstract: While intensive applied behavior analysis intervention is accepted as an evidence-based practice for increasing the social competence and communication of children with ASD, little is known about effective methods for preparing children with ASD to be academically successful (e.g., competent readers). Even less is known about the development and instruction of reading-related skills in preschool children with ASD. The health consequences for failing to develop reading proficiency are dire for all children, including children with ASD. Reading is a pivotal skill; without the ability to read, there is a strong likelihood that as they grow up, children with ASD will encounter a lack of post-secondary educational opportunities, employment, and participation in citizenship. Reading is also a functional skill; without functional literacy skills needed for independent living, leisure time activities, and supported employment, it will be difficult for adults with ASD to lead self-sufficient lives. The goal of this proposed project is to determine the immediate (end of preschool) and longer term (end of kindergarten) effects of preschool interventions based on areas that have been
previously shown to be important for emergent literacy and improved reading and language outcomes. To investigate these interventions, we will use three randomized control trials to test the efficacy of (a) Dialogic Reading and Phonological Awareness interventions in comparison to untutored peers and (b) compare the efficacy of the two interventions with each other. We will also examine whether intervention benefits are greater for certain child characteristics to determine under what conditions the treatments are most effective. Because it is important for young children to arrive in kindergarten prepared for conventional literacy instruction, this study will also follow-up children one year post-intervention to determine for which outcomes children with ASD continue to benefit from preschool intervention. Finally, we will examine which preschool pretest characteristics predict kindergarten outcomes for children across experimental conditions in order to determine which early literacy skills are most important indicators of later reading success for children with ASD – something that is currently unknown for children with ASD.
Project WORD, OSEP grant 324N040047
Abstract: Students with reading disabilities (RD) have difficulty learning to accurately and fluently identify printed words; a trait present in the earliest grades. The assumption is often made that children with RD will grow out of their reading problem, but 74% of children who are poor readers in the third grade remain poor readers in the ninth grade (Foorman, Fletcher, & Francis, 1999). Children with RD often have difficulties understanding and applying the alphabetic principle to fluently decode unfamiliar words. If students are dysfluent in decoding, it is likely to have two effects on their reading connected text: (a) dysfluent decoding skills may not be used because of the effort involved in their application, and (b) dysfluent decoding skills will create fluency “blocks” when children attempt to decode unfamiliar words in text, interfering with comprehension. Most methods of teaching decoding skills don’t emphasize teaching to automaticity, often leaving students as accurate, yet slow and labored readers. In this completed project, two studies examined the role of fluency in the application of phonemic decoding skills on text reading fluency. A diagnostic study determined the contribution of three processes theorized to be essential for skilled decoding (grapheme-phoneme correspondences, phonemic blending, and knowledge of phonograms) to explaining the students’ difficulties (Hudson, Torgesen, Lane, & Turner, 2012). An intervention study with second graders with reading disabilities compared two conditions comprising small-group decoding instruction that includes the processes taught to an accuracy criterion or fluency criterion (Hudson, Lane, Arriaza, Isakson, & Richman, 2011).