E-books for children with autism: Best read alone or with a therapist?

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SAGE Publishing


Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) seemingly prefer tablets to other methods of intervention, though professionals posit that a therapist’s presence is beneficial. In this experiment, two unique e-stories were created specifically for children with ASD. Ten children with low- or nonverbal ASD heard each story presented on an iPad; one narrated through the iPad, and one read by a therapist trained in Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA). The within-participants design enabled researchers to measure the individual benefit of each type of story reading. After hearing each book, participants were tested on their comprehension via multiple choice, sequencing, and open-ended questions. Results indicated that the ideal condition for these young children with low- and nonverbal ASD was the therapist-read condition. These findings suggest that simple stories presented on a rewarding platform, with the minimally intrusive assistance of a therapist, provide young, verbally-challenged children with ASD with a foundation for receiving the benefits of shared storybook reading.