Instruction Using AAC Supports: Current Practices by SLPs Who Work With Children With ASD (Clarke & Williams, 2020)

Clarke, K. A., & Williams, D. L. (2020). Instruction Using Augmentative and Alternative Communication Supports: Description of Current Practices by Speech-Language Pathologists Who Work With Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology29(2), 586-596. https://doi.org/10.1044/2019_AJSLP-19-00045


Purpose: The aim of this research study was to examine common practices of speech-language pathologists (SLPs) who work with children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with respect to whether or not SLPs consider processing differences in ASD or the effects of input during their instruction.

Method: Following a qualitative research method, how SLPs instruct and present augmentative and alternative communication systems to individuals with ASD, their rationale for method selection, and their perception of the efficacy of selected interventions were probed. Semistructured interviews were conducted as part of an in-depth case report with content analysis.

Results: Based on completed interviews, 4 primary themes were identified: (a) instructional method, (b) input provided, (c) decision-making process, and (d) perceived efficacy of treatment. Additionally, one secondary theme, training and education received, was identified.

Conclusions: Clinicians reported making decisions based on the needs of the child; however, they also reported making decisions based on the diagnostic category that characterized the child (i.e., ASD). The use of modeling when teaching augmentative and alternative communication to individuals with ASD emerged as a theme, but variations in the method of modeling were noted. SLPs did not report regularly considering processing differences in ASD, nor did they consider the effects of input during instruction.

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