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Elizabeth Biggs is leading a team who is addressing challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic for children with disabilities and their families through a new research project focusing on learning about the ways families are involved in language and literacy learning for children who are nonverbal or have limited verbal speech. The team is currently recruiting families to participate, and families can receive up to $220 in gift cards and two new children’s books for participating. Eligible participants must have a child who: attends a public school in Tennessee and is in Kindergarten through fourth grade for the 2020-2021 school year; has a disability and receives special education services; and is nonverbal or has limited verbal speech. All participation occurs online, at times that are convenient to families. To learn more about the project or complete an interest form, visit https://redcap.link/LanguageLiteracy. Contact Elizabeth Biggs at elizabeth.e.biggs@vanderbilt.eduPosted 9/8/20

Thank you for your interest in the Language and Literacy Project!

We know the COVID-19 pandemic has brought challenges for all families, including families with children with intellectual and developmental disabilities, such as autism, Down syndrome, intellectual disabilities, multiple disabilities, or other severe developmental delays. We are trying to address these challenges by using research to learn more about the ways families are involved in language and literacy learning. We hope to learn how to support strong outcomes for children and families during this pandemic. We also think the findings of this research will build understand of how to suport children and families long after the pandemic is over.

Participating in this research can help us develop stronger ways that families and their children can be supported. This will help ensure that children with disabilities who are nonverbal or have limited verbal speech can reach their full potential for language and literacy learning. We think there has never been a more important time to do this work! But, we will need your help to make it hapen.

Families who particpate in this research can receive a total of $220 in gift cards (your choice of Amazon, Walmart, or Target) and two new books for your child!

To participate in this reesarch, families need to live in Tennessee and have a child with a disability who:

  • Is in Kindergargen through 4th grade for the 2020-2021 school year
  • Attends a public school in Tennessee and receives special education services
  • Has an intellectual or developmental disability (e.g., autism, intellectual disability, multiple disabilities, severe developmental delay)
  • Is nonverbal or has limited verbal speech

This means that children might communicate:

  • Nonverbally, using gestures, sounds, body movements, or facial expressions
  • Using tools like picture symbols or computerized devices with speech output
  • And/or with limited spoken language (e.g., a small number of words or phrases, typically single words or short phrases)

Children who regularly communicate for a variety of reasons using spoken language  (4+ word phrases) will likely not be eligible to participate.

For the project, all of your participation as a parent would be convenient and confidential. You would participate in research activities remotely from your home (online), at times that you choose!

Becuase participation is fully online, families will need to have Internet access and a device, such as a tablet, computer, or smart phone.  Because research activities are conducted in English, we are only enrolling English speaking families at this time. However, families who are bilingual and speak both English and another language in their home are encouraged to participate.

Participation would consist of:

  • Completing online questionnaires about you and your child at three time points during the 2020-2021 school year (Fall, early Winter, Spring)
  • Providing an electronic copy of your child's Individualized Education Program (IEP) and documents from when he or she was evaluated for eligibility for special education
  • Completing interviews through Zoom (web-based videoconferencing) with a research team member about your child's language and literacy learning (3 time points during the 2020-2021 school year)
  • Completing two brief Zoom sessions with a researcher, during which you will read and talk with your child in your home (about 10 min in length)