Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Research Tuesday: Personal Narratives and Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders

I'm finally joining up for Research Tuesday.   You can head over to Gray Matter Therapy on Thursday to find out what other speech bloggers have been writing about.  This is a great way to stay up on research based interventions without having to spend your time scouring through a variety of different publications.

Since I have been focusing on personal narratives this month, I was interested to see what research was out there related to personal narratives and Autism Spectrum Disorders.  My experience has been that these skills are very difficult for my clients.  I was excited to find an article that looked at both storybook narrative skills and personal event narrative skills.
You can read the whole article HERE.  

What did they do?
This research study looked at storybook narratives and personal event narratives of 10 high-functioning young adults with ASD.  A trained research assistant elicited three personal event narratives and one storybook narrative.  Sessions were video taped and transcribed at a later date.  The adults most complex personal event narrative was used for scoring purposes.  Each narrative was assessed using the Narrative Scoring Scheme (NSS).  The NSS was chosen to provide information on narrative macrostructure (overall organization of the narrative) and cohesiveness.

What did they find out?  
The adult's storybook narratives were rated higher by the NSS than their personal experience narratives.  These results were statistically significant and thought to be easily noticed by the listener. The authors also noted that the adult's ability to use mental state words were decreased within the personal event narratives.  They noted, "That is many high-functioning adults with ASD had minimal skill in describing how they felt about events in their lives and reaching conclusions about those events, even though they were proficient at these same skills when retelling a fictitious story."

What does it mean?   
I found this study fascinating.  It reinforces my thoughts on the importance of teaching personal narratives to my students and clients.

I think it would be interesting to do a similar study with younger elementary school students to see if the same differences exist.  It would provide some insight into whether these skills are innate or if the student's learn how to retell a story based on their academic instruction.  We focus on literacy, summarizing, predicting and inferencing in our reading instruction programs.  Is that what is making a difference in their success with story retelling?  If that is the case, then we could incorporate similar strategies when teaching personal narrative skills.

Pamela Rosenthal Rollins (2014)
Narrative Skills in Young Adults With High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders
Communication Disorders Quarterly

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