What happens to reading between first and third grade? Implications for students who use AAC

Janet Sturm, Stephanie A. Spadorcia, James W. Cunningham, Kathleen S. Cali, Amy Staples, Karen Erickson, David E. Yoder, David A. Koppenhaver

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


School-age students who use AAC need access to communication, reading, and writing tools that can support them to actively engage in literacy learning. They also require access to core literacy learning opportunities across grade levels that foster development of conventional literacy skills. The importance of the acquisition of conventional literacy skills for students who use AAC cannot be overemphasized. And yet, one of the critical challenges in supporting the literacy learning of students who use AAC has been a lack of knowledge about literacy curricula and supports to literacy learning for these students. Most students who use AAC do not become conventionally literate and few of those who do achieve literacy skills beyond the second grade level. This article will provide an overview of the most frequent reading instructional activities in first and third grade classrooms. To better understand the foundational experiences important to literacy learning, the results of a survey project that examined the reading activities of general education students and teachers during primary grade instruction are presented, and critical shifts in instruction that occurred between first and third grade are highlighted. The primary instructional focus of core reading activities is also examined, along with adaptations for students who use AAC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-36
Number of pages16
JournalAAC: Augmentative and Alternative Communication
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2006


  • Augmentative and alternative communication
  • Children
  • Instructional techniques
  • Literacy


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