Like all individuals, adolescents  who require AAC  face important challenges as they transition from high school into adult life. Key transition goals include:

  • having a safe and supportive place to live
  • participating in meaningful activities
  • maintaining access to needed services
  • developing friendships and intimate relationships

In addressing these goals, many  young adults who require AAC face additional challenges because of limited educational preparation and societal discrimination.

Research Activities

Transition research at Penn State seeks to better understand the supports and challenges associated with  obtaining desired transition outcomes. Much of our work to date has focused on developing a better understanding of the strategies employed by individuals who require AAC and who have been successful in achieving desired outcomes in post-secondary education, independent living,  and employment. We have made use of consumer led research teams and internet focus group discussions, as well as case-study analysis of “success stories”, in order to better understand the perspective of individuals who require AAC and their support teams.

Information Sharing

Richardson, L., McCoy, A., McNaughton, D., Sayed, A., (August 8, 2016).  “Successful Employment of Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder who use Augmentative and Alternative Communication.”  Presentation at ISAAC.  Toronto, Canada.  [Handout].

Therrien, M., Muttiah, N., McNaughton, D., Bronstein, E., Dubrow, S., Livi, F., Rogers, S., (November 14, 2015). A Scoping Review of Supports for Children with Complex Communication Needs in Inclusive Education. Poster presentation at ASHA: Denver, CO.

McNaughton, D., Rackensperger, T., Dorn, D., & Wilson, N. (2014 Apr 14, E-pub).   “Home is at work and work is at home”: Telework and individuals who use augmentative and alternative communication.  Work.  [Abstract].

Tobin, M. & Finke, E. (November 14, 2013).  A Proposed Model for Individualizing Social & Communication Supports for Adults With ASD.  Poster at ASHA in Chicago, IL.

McNaughton, D. (2013, May).  AAC in the Workplace.  Presentation at Communications Carnival:  Gothenburg, Sweden.  [Handout]

McNaughton, D. (2013, May).  AAC Strategies to Support Transition.  Presentation at Communications Carnival:  Gothenburg, Sweden.  [Handout]

McNaughton, D., & Chapple, D. (2013). AAC and Communication in the Workplace.  Perspectives on Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 22(1), 30-36.

Tobin, M., Drager, K., (November 17, 2012).  Adults With Autism: A Systematic Review of Community Participation Outcomes.  Poster session at ASHA in Atlanta, GA.  [Handout].

McNaughton, D., Bryen, D., Blackstone, S., Williams, M., & Kennedy, P. (2012). Young Adults with Complex Communication Needs: Research and Development in AAC for a “Diverse” Population. Assistive Technology, 24, 45–53. (abstract)

McNaughton, D. & Arnold, A. (2010).  Employment and individuals who use AAC. (Webcast).

McNaughton, D., & Arnold, A. (2010). Supporting positive employment outcomes for individuals who use AAC. Perspectives on Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 19, 51-59. (Abstract).

McNaughton, D., Balandin, S., Kennedy, P., & Sandmel, T. (2010). Health transitions for youth with complex communication needs: The importance of health literacy and communication strategies. Journal of Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine, 3(4), 311–318. (Full text)

McNaughton, D.B. & Beukelman, D.R. (Eds.). (2010). Transition Strategies for Adolescents and Young Adults.   Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing


Luciani, B.A., Fechich, S., & McNaughton, D. (2007). AAC and college life: Just do it! (Webcast)Klein, C. & McNaughton, D. (2010). Building relationships through the tools of communication. (Online video)

McNaughton, D., & Bryen, D. N. (2007). AAC technologies to enhance participation and access to meaningful societal roles for adolescents and adults with developmental disabilities who require AAC. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 23, 217-229.

McNaughton, D., Symons, G., Light, J., Parsons, A., (2006).  “My Dream Was to Pay Taxes”: The Self-Employment Experiences of Individuals who use Augmentative and Alternative Communication.  This manuscript appears in Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 2006 VOL. 25 (3), pp. 181-196.  [Full Text].

McNaughton, D., Light, J., & Gulla, S. (2003). Opening up a “Whole new world”: Employer and co-worker perspectives on working with individuals who use augmentative and alternative communication. Augmentative and Alternative Communication , 19, 235-253.





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