Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is the fastest growing disability category in U.S. schools. Current legislation mandates that students with disabilities be educated in the classroom setting to the greatest extent possible. The increase in prevalence combined with placement regulations presents a challenge for classroom teachers who support students with ASD, as many of these students struggle with the necessary classroom skills to function appropriately in that environment. Classroom skills have been referred to in the literature as skills that are required for learning to occur, including: (a) looking at the teacher, (b) keeping hands to self, (c) raising a hand before talking, and (d) completing appropriate academic tasks. This study will focus on the classroom skill of attending.
Since ASD is a spectrum, an intervention that is effective for one individual may not be successful for another, despite having the same diagnosis. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a discipline that is among the most effective, scientifically-based methods, for educating children with ASD. Covert audio coaching (CAC) is an intervention that adheres to the principles of ABA. Covert audio coaching is a form of performance feedback that involves an instructor coaching a participant from a distance. Both have a two-way radio, and the participant wears an earpiece so that they can receive feedback from the coach without anyone except the participant knowing they are being supported. While CAC has been used successfully to support individuals with disabilities throughout the past several years, there is only one published study that explored the effectiveness of CAC with its use on an elementary school student with a disability.
The current study examined the effect of CAC on the classroom skill of attending of four elementary school students with ASD in their classrooms. The researcher provided supportive and corrective statements to participants via an earpiece device during instructional time. A multiple probe design across participants was used. A visual analysis showed that the CAC intervention was successful for all four participants, with increased levels of attending maintaining for up to five weeks once the intervention was removed.
The results of this study suggest that CAC can be an effective intervention for improving the classroom skills of children with ASD in the classroom setting.