Finke, E. H., Davis, J. M., Benedict, M., Goga, L., Kelly, J., Palumbo, L., Peart, T. and & Waters, S. (2017). Effects of a least-to-most prompting procedure on multisymbol message production in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder who use Augmentative and Alternative Communication. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 1-18.
One particular language challenge for children who use AAC, including those with ASD, is their tendency to communicate using predominantly single-symbol messages (Light, Binger, & Kelford Smith, 1994; Smith & Grove, 2003). This major difference in communication patterns is significant because communicating using longer, more complex utterances and meeting the full range of communicative demands across contexts is an important stage of language development and critical to competent communication (Branson & Demchak, 2009; Hamm & Mirenda, 2006). For this reason, supporting learning of new and increasingly more sophisticated language (i.e., use of longer utterances involving multisymbol messages) should be a primary goal of intervention with children with ASD who use AAC (e.g., Light, Roberts, Dimarco & Greiner, 1998).
Purpose: In this study, we investigated the efficacy of a least-to-most (LTM) prompting procedure (Ault & Griffen, 2013; MacDuff, Krantz, & McClannahan, 2001; Neitzel & Wolery, 2009) for increasing use of multisymbol messages in school-age children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) during a storybook reading activity.
Method: Researchers used a single-subject, multiple-probe research design across participants (Kazdin, 1982) with 6 children (ages 8–12) with ASD and who used AAC systems for communication. There were 4 phases in this investigation: (a) baseline, (b) intervention, (c) generalization, and (d) maintenance.
Results: All participants exhibited a positive increase in multisymbol message production almost immediately upon introduction of the LTM prompting procedure.
Conclusions: The results of the investigation contribute important information on the efficacy of the LTM prompting procedure for teaching use of multisymbol messages to school-age children with ASD who use AAC.