Teaching American Sign Language to Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
This project analyzed how learning American Sign Language (ASL) impacts the verbal and nonverbal communication skills of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and explored the effectiveness of using a book as a visual aid to teach ASL to children with ASD. Three fourth grade participants with ASD were taught ASL in an elementary school setting during twelve sessions over the course of nine weeks. The book used in this project contained twenty-one basic signs that the participants most likely use on a daily basis. Results showed improved verbal communication for two of the three participants, increased retention of ASL for one of the participants, and the book proved to be an effective teaching tool for one of the participants. Further research applications of using a book to teach ASL to children with ASD were identified throughout the research process of this project. Teaching ASL to this population has the potential to benefit the individual in their social endeavors with their families, teachers, and peers. Learning ASL creates a new form of communication for children with ASD, and this new means of expression could be life changing for those who are non-verbal or lack effective communication skills in a variety of situations.
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