The effect of ABRACADABRA literacy instruction on the spelling ability of children with autism

Ben Bailey, Joanne Arciuli, Roger Stancliffe

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Purpose – This study examined the effects of ABRACADABRA (CSLP, 2009), a freely accessible, evidence-based early literacy web application, on the spelling skills of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). We hypothesised that children with ASD who received ABRACADABRA instruction would exhibit improved spelling ability compared to a wait-control group of children with ASD. Method: 20 participants aged 5-10 years were assigned to Instruction and Wait-control groups (matched on ability). Participants in the Instruction group received 26 sessions of ABRACADABRA instruction over 13 weeks. Word spelling accuracy was measured pre- and post-instruction using the Wide Range Achievement Test – 4th edition (WRAT-4; Wilkinson & Robertson, 2006). All responses to the spelling subtest were evaluated for evidence of phonological, orthographic, and morphological spelling ability using the Computerized Spelling Sensitivity System (CSSS; Masterson & Hrbec, 2011). Results : A series of 2 x 2 ANOVAs (Time x Group) were conducted. Results showed no significant interaction for WRAT-4 spelling accuracy, F(1, 18) = 0.56, p = .46, ƞp2 = .03. However there were significant interactions for the CSSS spelling measures: CSSS word spelling, F(1, 18) = 4.54, p = .047, ƞp2 = .20, and CSSS element spelling, F(1, 18) = 5.10, p = .04, ƞp2 = .22. Conclusion: Results suggest that ABRACADABRA was effective in promoting the spelling abilities of children with ASD. However, these improvements were evident in CSSS scores that looks at all spelling attempts rather than a conventional measure spelling accuracy. Implications for literacy instruction and spelling assessment will be discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventSociety for the Scientific Study of Reading (SSSR): Twenty-Third Annual Meeting - University of Porto, Porto, Portugal
Duration: 13 Jul 201616 Jul 2016
Conference number: 23rd


ConferenceSociety for the Scientific Study of Reading (SSSR)
Abbreviated titleSSSR2016
Internet address


  • Children
  • spelling instruction
  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)


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