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Acquisition of Play Actions and Vocabulary Using Different Speech-generating Displays for one Child with Autism

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This pilot study examined the effects of incorporating a visual scene-based speech generating device (SGD) and a grid-based SGD into an intervention teaching play actions and comments to a 5 year old child with autism. An alternating treatment design was utilized to assess effects of the SGD formats during structured play trials (e.g., presenting item from playset and saying “show me how to play”) and free play probes (e.g., giving free access to playset and items for 2.5 minutes). The same playset was used for both conditions, however the available play items and associated actions and vocabulary differed by condition. During baseline, the participant showed low levels of target actions and vocabulary during structured trials and free play probes, and primarily engaged in self-stimulatory behaviors. During intervention, a least-to-most prompt hierarchy was used to teach the child appropriate plays actions, and how to activate play-vocabulary hotspots using either the visual scene display (VSD) or the grid. Appropriate target actions and vocabulary use (via SGD or vocalizations) were reinforced with social attention and free access to the play items. During final intervention sessions the participant used target actions and vocabulary words in 100% of trials, and increased his use of actions and vocabulary during free play probes. The communication responses were initially acquired more rapidly with the VSD, but mastery criterion was also met with the grid. The procedures were replicated with a novel playset, and the participant acquired vocabulary and actions in both conditions at a similar rate.

Author(s):

Cindy Gevarter    
Manhattanville College
United States

Michelle Kuhn    
University of Texas
United States

Laci Watkins    
University of Texas
United States

Mark O'Reilly    
University of Texas
United States

 

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