School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Barbara A. Jordan-White


autism spectrum disorder, reading comprehension, self-efficacy, social cognitive theory, students with disabilities




The purpose of this embedded multiple case study was to explore perceptions of reading comprehension interventions in students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at public schools within the Commonwealth of Virginia and to discover common themes and strategies that help students with ASD. The sample pool consisted of approximately 62 students. The sample size included nine participants chosen through a purposeful sampling method relying on a maximum variation procedure. The research question focused on the lived experiences of students with ASD and their perceptions regarding reading comprehension and self-efficacy. The theory guiding this study was Bandura’s theory of self-efficacy; that is, as students begin to believe in their abilities to complete tasks, they will see greater academic success. Data collection included interviews, direct observations, and document analysis. Data was entered in NVivo 12 for Windows to provide consistency in data input. Coding extracted major themes and consistencies in the research data. Through in-depth data collection and data analysis, I discovered five major themes in my study. Students with ASD experienced frustration with reading, fear of asking for assistance, difficulty understanding complex reading skills, career readiness anxiety, and lack of self-efficacy. Participants’ frustrations with reading focused on reading comprehension and decoding skills. The fear of asking for assistance concentrated on embarrassment in asking for help and the lack of time for additional assistance. The difficulty in understanding complex reading skills circled around figurative language and reading connections. Career readiness anxiety regarded reading in the workplace and the possibility for advancement. Lastly, the lack of self-efficacy was highlighted by feelings of inadequacy and negative feelings about abilities.

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