Teaching students with severe and multiple disabilities: the implementation of shared stories
This study investigated the results of employing shared story reading during literacy instruction for participants with severe and multiple disabilities. This intervention was conducted in an effort to improve independent responses made by participants with severe and multiple disabilities within a small group on a task analysis during shared stories. The participants of the study were elementary students receiving special education services who were enrolled in two schools within the local educational agency (LEA). The researcher employed a task analysis to identify correct response patterns from participants. The researcher and other professionals implementing related services employed Universal Design for Learning (UDL) techniques in an effort to augment independent correct responses within small group instruction. The UDL techniques incorporated augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices and intraverbal training techniques in an effort to promote independence and participation. The researcher provided intraverbal training by presenting various styles of questions during literacy training, and the participants used AAC devices, picture symbols, communication boards, and objects relating to the story to appropriately respond to specific questions from the task analysis. The task analysis measured the students' intraverbal skills, comprehension, and participation. Only the independent responses were incorporated for inclusion into this study; however, general reactions and nonresponsiveness were recorded to facilitate improved participant engagement through UDL planning. This task analysis was employed for each participant during the baseline, intervention, generalization, and maintenance phases of the study. Professionals who attended the team planning meetings completed a checklist to ensure that all components of UDL were addressed for each step of the task analysis. The results of the current study indicated that the number of independent correct responses increased for all participants across all phases of the study. The study indicated that the participants engaged during shared story reading by attending to objects, using AAC devices to interact during the story and demonstrate comprehension of text. Taken together with the Browder, Mims, et al. (2008) study, the results of the study suggested that the implementation of UDL components with shared story reading is an effective method to promote literacy learning for students with severe and multiple disabilities.