Learning Preferences of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder to Teach Theory of Mind
Speech Pathology & Audiology
Speech Pathology and Audiology
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Purpose: Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) present with persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts. A specific social communication area of difficulty these children have is theory of mind (TOM), which is the ability to understand the perspective of other people. Professionals teach TOM concepts to improve the social communication of children with ASD. The primary purpose of this study is to determine learning style preferences for children with ASD when learning TOM concepts. A secondary purpose is to determine if the learning modality improved TOM concepts. Method: Children were recruited from a local private speech therapy clinic for this pre/post case series design study. Three children between 6 and 12 years of age who were diagnosed with ASD participated in four 20-minutes sessions: Session 1: pretesting (Theory of Mind-2nd Edition), Session 2: learning style preference for one aspect of TOM, Session 3: learning style preference for another aspect of TOM, and Session 4: post-testing. During Session 2 and 3, children selected the modality in which they preferred to learn TOM concepts. Four different modalities were offered: audiovisual (i.e., social story, and video), auditory (i.e., talking), visual (i.e., flashcards), and kinesthetic (i.e., act out scenarios). Results: Overall, the video modality was the most preferred learning modality across Session 2 and 3 with an 83% (5/6) selection rate. The average score for all children on the TOMI-2 decreased from pretest to posttest after receiving TOM instruction over a two-week span. Children exhibited different errors on the TOMI-2. ii Discussion: Results suggested that learning modality preference was similar across all children. One session of teaching a TOM concept was not long enough to make meaningful changes in understanding TOM concepts.