1,082 publications found
Sort by
Aided Enhanced milieu teaching to develop symbolic and social communication skills in children with autism spectrum disorder

Children who lack functional spoken language are candidates for augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). Aided AAC and naturalistic interventions offer the potential to extend the communication functions demonstrated by children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who are nonspeaking. Related intervention research, however, has been limited, in that interventions have generally targeted a limited range of communication functions taught in highly structured, decontextualized environments. The aim of this study was to investigate the efficacy of an intervention that combined aided AAC with a naturalistic intervention – enhanced milieu teaching (AEMT) - to increase symbolic communication in children with autism spectrum disorder. Three children with autism spectrum disorder participated in a multiple probe design, in which a range of communication functions were targeted using the AEMT. Results showed increases in the use of symbolic communication from baseline to intervention phases, which were found to be statistically significant for two of the three children (phi 0.7–0.81; p < .001). Intervention outcomes were generalized to a communication partner not involved in the intervention and maintained over time for all children. The study provides preliminary evidence that communication functions beyond object requests could be taught using a systematic, multi-element approach implemented across activities.

A large-scale comparison of two voice synthesis techniques on intelligibility, naturalness, preferences, and attitudes toward voices banked by individuals with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) commonly results in the inability to produce natural speech, making speech-generating devices (SGDs) important. Historically, synthetic voices generated by SGDs were neither unique, nor age- or dialect-appropriate, which depersonalized SGD use. Voices generated by SGDs can now be customized via voice banking and should ideally sound uniquely like the individual’s natural speech, be intelligible, and elicit positive reactions from communication partners. This large-scale 2 x 2 mixed between- and within-participants design examined perceptions of 831 adult listeners regarding custom synthetic voices created for two individuals diagnosed with ALS via two synthesis systems in common clinical use (waveform concatenation and statistical parametric synthesis). The study explored relationships among synthesis system, dysarthria severity, synthetic speech intelligibility, naturalness, and preferences, and also provided a preliminary examination of attitudes regarding the custom synthetic voices. Synthetic voices generated via statistical parametric synthesis trained on deep neural networks were more intelligible, natural, and preferred than voices produced via waveform concatenation, and were associated with more positive attitudes. The custom synthetic voice created from moderately dysarthric speech was more intelligible than the voice created from mildly dysarthric speech. Clinical implications and factors that may have contributed to the relative intelligibilities are discussed.

Parental perceptions of social life before and after attending a parent training program for children with complex communication needs: the ComAlong example

Parent training programs aimed at improving language outcomes for children with complex communication needs have predominantly been evaluated on child-centered outcomes and less often on the impact on social life or parental well-being. This study examined parent perceptions of social life before and after ComAlong, a group intervention providing parents with knowledge and training in responsive communication, environmental-milieu teaching strategies and augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). Parents (N = 467) completed questionnaires during the first and last sessions of ComAlong groups held in Sweden 2012 to 2018. Main outcome measure was change in the Social Life Scale from the Family Impact Questionnaire. Associations between this measure and demographic factors of parents and children were analyzed, along with reported change in parents’ use of AAC. Pre-post comparisons revealed small significant positive changes in perceived impact of social life following intervention. The magnitude of the positive change was larger among parents of children with non-syndromic diagnoses and parents of children with autism spectrum disorder or attention deficit hyper activity disorder (ADHD). Differences in social life impact was not associated with parents’ gender, language proficiency, age, or educational background. In conclusion, communication-focused parent training programs can have a positive impact on social family life and may thereby influence children’s participation.

Using occupational therapy principles and practice to support independent message generation by individuals using AAC instead of facilitated communication

Facilitated communication (FC) has been a heavily debated and documented topic across multiple disciplines, including sociology, education, psychology, pediatrics, speech-language pathology, and disability studies. Although many professionals from various disciplines and advocates have offered opinions, suggestions, and research on the topic, there has been minimal input from the occupational therapy (OT) profession. The lack of OT input is noteworthy as OTs are experts in enabling upper extremity performance and independence through a variety of training, adaptation and modification strategies, and use of external supports. Because of their professional code of ethics and a specific knowledge base, OTs are uniquely positioned to provide a host of ethical and evidence-based strategies that enable independent access to communication technology. The consideration of multiple access options is contrary to the typical facilitated encounter where facilitators exclusively choose to manipulate an upper extremity in order for letters to be selected on a display or keyboard. The purpose of this paper is threefold: (a) To offer insight into the standard of care by OTs including their ethical standards; (b) to identify varied accommodations that enable access using a feature-matching standard of care that eliminates the need for a facilitator; and (c) to highlight how to increase independent assistive technology/augmentative and alternative communication access, thus dissuading the need or use of facilitated access to letters.

Turn-taking and communication modes of students and staff in group activities at non-inclusive schools for students with intellectual disability

Most students with intellectual and communicative disability who rely on augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) attend non-inclusive school settings. Little is known about turn-taking and the use of various communication modes in groups of students and staff in this context. Previous studies on single students with intellectual disability in various school settings have found that staff tend to dominate interactions and augmented communication modes are used more during structured than unstructured activities. The present study explored turn-taking contributions and communication modes in whole groups of students and staff in non-inclusive school settings in Sweden. Video observations of 33 students and 30 school staff were conducted in seven classrooms during one structured activity (circle time) and one unstructured activity (leisure time). Turn-taking contributions and communication modes were examined when comparing students and staff and when comparing the two activities. Findings revealed that staff dominated the interactions and augmented communication modes were used less during leisure time than circle time. Notably, aided augmented communication modes, particularly speech-output technologies, were used sparsely. Findings of this study highlight the importance of supporting staff members in applying partner strategies and incorporating augmented input, especially aided augmented input, across various group activities at school.

Open Access