Background/aims: The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for accessible support for children with developmental disabilities. This study explored online literacy instruction with supplementary parent-led shared book reading (SBR) for children with autism. Methods: Twenty-one children with autism (5–12 years) completed a battery of assessments (T1) before being assigned to ability matched Instruction (n = 10) and Control groups (n = 11). Instruction group participants completed 16 h of ABRACADABRA instruction working with a researcher 1:1 online and SBR activities at home with a parent over 8 weeks. All participants were reassessed after the instruction period (T2) and parents of children in the Instruction group were interviewed regarding their views and experiences. Results: Quantitative analyses showed no significant improvements in reading for Instruction group children relative to Control group children. However, each child successfully participated in 16 online instruction sessions and qualitative data revealed that parents were generally positive about the program, with some observing improvements in their child's literacy skills and reading confidence. Conclusions and Implications: While it appears children with autism can participate in online literacy instruction, sixteen hours of online ABRACADABRA instruction with parent-led SBR may not be effective in improving their reading skills. Further research is required to explore whether more intensive and/or extended online instruction may be feasible and effective, and to improve uptake of parent-led book reading activities at home.
- Online instruction
- Reading instruction