The planning behaviors of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) during writing remain overlooked. Targeted examination of planning behaviors may help to better understand their heterogeneous writing skills.
This study examined overt planning behaviors of three groups of school-age children (ASD, ADHD, and typically developing [TD]) during the planning stage of a standardized narrative writing assessment. Aims explored group differences in time spent planning, between- and within-group differences in overt planning behaviors, and relationships between planning behaviors and writing performance as well as age, cognitive skills, and diagnostic symptom severity.
This study included 121 9-17-year-old children (60 ASD, 32 ADHD, and 29 TD). Video recordings captured overt planning behaviors during a two-minute prewriting planning stage.
Not all participants planned, but group membership overwhelmingly did not influence planning likelihood. Groups differed in time spent engaging with the outline (29 %-70 %), with the TD group spending the most time. Groups spent similar amounts of time looking away from the task (< 10 %) and looking at the task picture (20 %-33 %). The TD and ASD groups demonstrated more similar within-group-level differences in planning behavior s, while the ADHD group appeared more variable. The ADHD and TD groups but not the ASD group showed stronger associations between planning behaviors and writing performance.
Children with ASD and ADHD differed relative to each other and to TD peers in specific planning behaviors. Implications are discussed regarding instructional practices and needed future research to examine planning during writing in children with developmental disabilities.

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