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Promoting Communication in Inclusive Settings: Collaboration and Peer Support for Students who use AAC

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Promoting social communication and interaction between students who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) and their peers may require careful planning and support. Peer support arrangements have been identified as an effective intervention to increase interactions between students with severe disabilities and their peers. These individualized interventions consist of equipping a small number of peers without disabilities to provide ongoing academic and social support to their classmate with a disability. Students learn together as they work on classroom activities and receive ongoing guidance from an adult. However, students who use AAC have largely been absent from empirical evaluations of this intervention. The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy and social validity of peer support arrangements for students who used aided AAC when collaborative teams were involved in individualized planning for the intervention. We used a multiple-probe-across-participants design to investigate the efficacy of the intervention to increase peer interaction and AAC use in inclusive classrooms. Four middle school students participated who had an intellectual disability and used an iPad with Proloquo2Go as an AAC device. Educational teams comprised of a special educator, general educator, paraprofessional, and speech-language pathologist participated in collaborative planning for the intervention. For all four students, peer support arrangements increased the amount of (a) their communication with peers, and (b) peers’ communication with them. AAC use increased for one student. We offer implications for research and practice on supporting social interaction in general education settings for students who use AAC.


Elizabeth Biggs    
Vanderbilt University
United States


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