Linguistics Senior Research Projects

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Autism, children, AAC, Augmentative and Alternative Communication, parent perspectives


The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) on children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This study examined the question: “What is the role of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices in aiding individuals across the autism spectrum and what perspectives do parents of children across the autism spectrum have with regard to this technology?” This study involved interviewing a parent of an autistic child to glean her perspectives on AAC. The findings from this interview guided the meta-analysis research. Three main categories arose: benefits of AAC, disadvantages of AAC and parent perspectives. Three speech-language pathology journals were searched using the terms AAC, autism, and children for the first search with the addition of parent perspectives for the second. The inclusion criteria for studies were as follows: January 2000-August 2021, report on the findings of an experiment in which autistic children 18 and younger used AAC; and/or include parent’s perspectives of their children’s (18≤) AAC use. Benefits include increased speech/vocalizations, developing more advanced communication i.e., responding to greetings and questions, use of expressive and receptive language and requesting. Disadvantages include difficulty generalizing to new settings, learning symbols and integrating AAC. Parents were too focused on becoming operationally competent, some saw benefits, others noted difficulties and another wanted more AAC modeling for her son. AAC has benefits and disadvantages, but should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis as every child has different needs.

Keywords: Autism, children, AAC, parent perspectives

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