The emergent literacy skills of preschool children with autism spectrum disorder

M. F. Westerveld*, J. Paynter, D. Trembath, A. A. Webster, A. M. Hodge, J. Roberts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


A high percentage of school-age students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have reading comprehension difficulties leading to academic disadvantage. These difficulties may be related to differences in children’s emergent literacy development in the preschool years. In this study, we examined the relationship between emergent literacy skills, broader cognitive and language ability, autism severity, and home literacy environment factors in 57 preschoolers with ASD. The children showed strengths in code-related emergent literacy skills such as alphabet knowledge, but significant difficulties with meaning-related emergent literacy skills. There was a significant relationship between meaning-related skills, autism severity, general oral language skills, and nonverbal cognition. Identification of these meaning-related precursors will guide the targets for early intervention to help ensure reading success for students with ASD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)424-438
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • ASD
  • emergent literacy
  • preschool-age


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