LONG-TERM FOLLOW-UP OF AUGMENTATIVE AND ALTERNATIVE COMMUNICATION USE AMONG CHILDREN WITH DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES

D. Achmadi

Victoria University of Wellington (NEW ZEALAND)
Background:
Communication deficit is a defining characteristic of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and intellectual disabilities (ID). Approximately 50% of children diagnosed with ASD fail to develop functional speech. In the absence of speech, these children are often taught to use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems. Three commonly used forms of AAC are manual sign (MS), picture exchange (PE) and speech-generating devices (SGD). Debate persists as to which of these three systems is most effective. Recent research suggests positive results in using iPod® -based speech-generating device as a communication aid for children with communication impairments. However, long-term maintenance of the interventions and preference of the AAC mode is lacking.

Objective:
The studies in this study focused on (1) exploring the maintenance of skills acquired to use these three systems and (2) assessing the participant’s preference of AAC system.

Method:
Participants were three children with ASD and one with ID, who had learned to use the three AAC systems. The target task was to make a request of play time. Data was collected 12, 15, and 18 months post-intervention (T1, T2, and T3, respectively).
Results:
Data on maintenance suggested that most participants showed high success rates in maintaining the skills to use the SGD compared to PE and MS.
Data on preference showed that participants showed greater proficiency in their preferred mode of the AACs available.

Conclusion:
Results supported previous findings that maintenance is better for the preferred AAC and extends previous data by showing this relation holds over a longer term of follow-up sessions.