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“It’s a Magic Board!” Introducing Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) to Preschoolers with Autism

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Aim: This study presents a multi-disciplinary and collaborative integration of low-tech Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) in an early intervention class of children with autism in Singapore.

Method: A multi-disciplinary core team integrated AAC in the classroom through the use of low-tech core vocabulary communication boards, aided language stimulation and other communication strategies. The collaboration was divided into 5 stages, namely 1.Teacher & therapist training, 2. Introduction of AAC, 3. Implementation of AAC, 4. Parent training, 5. Generalization. The project lasted ten weeks and weekly team discussions of goals and implementation steps were carried out. Language transcripts were analysed quantitatively to assess changes in children’s communication initiation, language and participation levels. Questionnaires pre- and post-intervention also measured teachers/therapists/parents attitudes towards AAC usage and its strategies.

Results: All children showed improvement in communication initiation, number and variety of augmented and/or spoken vocabulary, and participation level. Two children showed increase in meaningful speech output. Teachers and parents demonstrated increased awareness and confidence in implementing AAC strategies post-training.

Conclusion: This pilot study to introduce a core vocabulary communication board to pre-schoolers with autism yielded encouraging results. Perspectives from teachers, parents and therapists; video clips from different stages over the course of the study; and the data generated during this study provide support for integration into early intervention classrooms. The process used to facilitate collaboration from the multi-disciplinary team, as well as the methods used can be adapted and used as a model for other emerging AAC countries.

Author(s):

Sarah M Yong    
SPD
Singapore

Dawn Patricia Young    
SPD
Singapore

Deborah Xinyi Yong    
SPD
Singapore

Phey San Seah    
SPD
Singapore

Ridhima Batra    
SPD
Singapore

Nirmalayga Govindasamy    
SPD
Singapore

Lay Keong Yeo    
SPD
Singapore

 

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