Mandak, K., Lamb, M., & Light, J. (March, 2017). Effects of an AAC app on single-word reading of preliterate preschoolers with autism spectrum disorder. Poster presentation at the Pennsylvania Speech-Language Hearing Association (PSHA) convention in Harrisburg, PA. [Handout].
A large portion of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have communication impairments so severe that they use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) to communicate. In order to communicate effectively, it is essential for these children to develop the ability to read and write as literacy skills provide the easiest access to generative language. Unfortunately, many children with ASD lack the supports to develop functional literacy skills, which heightens the risk of poor outcomes in education and communication. Young communicators with ASD typically use graphic AAC symbols to communicate, often in the form of visual scene displays (VSDs). Currently there are no evidence based AAC apps that effectively support the transition from communicating through graphic symbols to orthographic text. It is critical to find a way for young communicators to transition to literacy in an effective and efficient manner, and as early as possible.
This study uses a single subject multiple baseline design across three pre-literate preschoolers with ASD to investigate the effects of dynamically displaying text within graphics-based AAC software to support the transition from AAC graphic symbols to literacy. The three participants were exposed to the VSD during a story book reading interaction. Before each story book reading using the VSD, the participants were probed for their accuracy in reading the 10 selected sight words. Preliminary data suggest evidence of the children’s acquisition of the targeted sight words following exposure to the dynamically displayed words in the AAC app.
This study is part of the larger RERC on AAC effort towards investigating AAC technologies to support the transition from graphic symbols to literacy.