Using a Decoding Strategy with Constant Time Delay to Teach Word Reading to Children with Down Syndrome
Maiorano, Michael J.
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In the United States, about 6,000 infants are born each year with Down syndrome or about 1 in 691 live births affecting approximately 400,000 families. Arguably, one of the most overwhelming challenges for children with Down syndrome to accomplish is learning how to read and master the phonology of the language. Understanding how sounds map to specific letters and letter combinations is a critical skill to acquire and affords individuals with Down syndrome a means to function in a literate society. In this study a three-step decoding strategy was used with a constant time delay procedure to teach word reading to three children with Down syndrome and mild intellectual disabilities using a phonics-based curriculum. Although this strategy and procedure are not exclusive to instruction with children with Down syndrome, it does incorporate many of the elements that have shown to be effective with this population. A non-concurrent multiple baseline design with two intervention phases was used to examine the percentage of letter-sounds correctly decoded and the percentage of words read correctly by the children. Rhyming CVC words were used for the intervention and a probe was administered between intervention phases to test for generalization. The data indicated that all three students learned to read words using the three-step decoding strategy and constant time delay procedure. This was replicated with increased learning efficiency using words composed from a similar phonemic structure. However, across all children letter-sound decoding accuracy out-paced word reading accuracy. Although each child made gains, these gains were not sufficient to infer generalization. These results suggest that the decoding strategy and time delay procedure may be effective at instructing children with Down syndrome who are having a difficult time blending sounds together to read words.