College of Education > News and Publications > News: 2009 > Cheryl Ostryn Wins Grant to Study Non-Vocal Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Cheryl Ostryn Wins Grant to Study Non-Vocal Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Cheryl Ostryn's grant to study children with autism

by Joe Savrock (March 2009)

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Cheryl Ostryn, doctoral candidate in the Special Education program, has won a grant from the Organization for Autism Research for her empirical study on children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The study, titled “Teaching Non-Vocal Children with Autism to Ask ‘What’s That?’ Using a Pictorial Communication System,” earned one of eight awards given nationally by the autism organization. Ostryn’s work was selected for its potential to advance the state of existing knowledge regarding meaningful outcomes in autism intervention and support.

The study was a follow-up to an article Ostryn published last year in the journal Research & Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities (vol. 33, No. 1–2). The published article was titled, "A Review and Analysis of the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders Using a Paradigm of Communication Competence."

Says Ostryn, “The review highlighted the lack of teaching the ‘wh’ questions to children with ASD using the current picture system known as the PECS. So I designed a study to teach the first ‘wh’ question—‘What?’—to children with ASD using a picture system.”

Ostryn’s study will focus on non-vocal children with ASD. The study also will investigate whether individuals generalize this skill in natural settings.