Children that have autism tend to have greater difficulty obtaining the information and curriculum of language arts in a baseline teaching classroom environment. Ferraioli and Harris states that if provided with an appropriate educational and interventional experience beginning early in their lives, can move into and benefit from a more typical educational setting (Ferraioli & Harris 2011; e.g., Lovaas 1987; Smith et al. 2000) . Baseline teaching styles consist of instruction from the teacher or para professional and the student is only interacting with the teacher, para professional, or tutors (i.e. student asks questions directed to the teacher, teacher responds to question and not use the input of other classmates). Owen-DeSchryver, Carr, Cale, and Blakeley-Smith speaks about a study conducted on students with autism and other students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) reported that Hilton and Liberty (1992) 78% of interactions were purely instructional in nature and occurred between the students with special needs and their teachers, teaching assistant, or peer tutors rather than with classmates who were not acting as tutors. Considering language arts is essential to the development of language in a child’s life, parents’ of children with autism are prone to be concerned with their child’s ability to retain and effectively use the skills learned in the language arts’ curriculum.
Based on varies studies, children with autism that are introduced to teaching styles that incorporate peer interaction and interaction with their teacher is associated with higher retention rates in learning in general. Children with autism who actively share and follow the attention of others (via coordinated attention to toys and people, showing toys or pointing to events and objects) also exhibit more sophisticated language skills (Charman et al., 2003; Dawson et al., 2004; Loveland & Landry, 1986; Mundy, Sigman, Ungerer, & Sherman, 1986). Therefore it is suggested that children that are able to participate with their peers are more than likely to be more capable of learning material due to observational learning. However, there are mixed results for including children with autism in the traditional baseline taught classrooms with other their peers with autism and classrooms taught with the inclusion of peer interaction of children without autism. Harrower and Dunlap reports in one study, conducted by Harris, Handleman, Kristoff, Bass, and Gordon (1990), compared five children with autism in a segregated preschool classroom, five children with autism in an inclusive classroom and four typically developing peers in the inclusive classroom on measures of language ability before and after language instruction. Results failed to show significant differences in language ability between the children in either setting (Harrower & Dunlap, 2001; Harris, Handleman, Kristoff, Bass & Gordon, 1990)
It suggests that integrating peer interaction with...