Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


48th Annual Convention; Boston, MA; 2022

Event Details

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Symposium #339
CE Offered: BACB
Assessment and Treatment Considerations for Children With Developmental Disabilities Who Are Candidates for Augmentative and Alternative Communication Systems
Sunday, May 29, 2022
5:00 PM–5:50 PM
Meeting Level 2; Room 251
Area: DDA/VRB; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Sarah Grace Hansen (30306)
Discussant: Einar T. Ingvarsson (Virginia Institute of Autism)
CE Instructor: Amarie Carnett, Ph.D.

Individuals with complex communication needs are often candidates for augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems. However, there is a need for assessment as well as a range of considerations that may affect an individual’s use of AAC system, as well as collateral effect of acquisition. This symposium will present data from two empirical studies. For the first study, data will be presented on the use of an assessment framework that identifies an optimal modality, while including stakeholder participation and evaluating individual preferences throughout the assessment process. The second study will examine the literature and evaluate the collateral effect of AAC use across participant characteristics. Implications and future directions will be discussed by the discussant, Einar Ingvarsson.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): AAC, developmental disabilities, SGD, verbal behavior
Target Audience:

Attendees should have a working knowledge of augmentative and alternative communication systems.

Learning Objectives: 1. Learn about methodology for assessment of AAC systems. 2. Learn procedures for engaging stakeholders (families, caregivers, service providers) in the assessment process and how to evaluate learner preference of AAC systems. 3. Learn about the empirical research on the collateral effects of AAC use.

A Preliminary Decision-Making Framework and Assessment for Selecting an Augmentative and Alternative Communication Modality

AMARIE CARNETT (Victoria University of Wellington), Leslie Neely (The University of Texas at San Antonio)

Children with autism spectrum disorder who have limited speech are often candidates for augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) modalities to teach basic mands. However, few studies have evaluated the assessment of various AAC modalities. We report on the results a preliminary assessment framework aimed to evaluate a decision-making model and modality comparison for teaching seven children with autism spectrum disorder. Assessment procedures involved the use of a decision-making model that evaluated environments, and caregiver’s preference as a listener. This decision-making framework was then used to inform an assessment of modalities across the learner’s acquisition and preference. Preliminary findings indicate the utility of creating an assessment process that could be viable for practitioners to use and highlight the need to account for the social validity of a modality, by including caregivers within the decision making. Results point to a potentially useful approach for assessing AAC modalities for young children with autism spectrum disorder.


Augmented and Alternative Communication Modalities and Spontaneous Vocal Speech: A Systematic Review and Analysis

JESSICA DEMARCO (Georgia State University), Sarah Grace Hansen (30306), Daniel E Conine (Georgia State University)

Augmented and Alternative Communication (AAC) Modalities are effective components of interventions to improve communicative ability for individuals who did not develop vocal speech. Increasing communication via AAC modality has documented collateral effects including reduced challenging behavior, increased skill acquisition, and for some populations, emergence of vocal speech. While certain intervention components (e.g., reinforcement, prompting, differential reinforcement, stimulus- stimulus pairing) have been used successfully to increase AAC use and spontaneous vocal speech alike, there is little evidence as to the AAC intervention elements or participant characteristics best associated with spontaneous vocal speech. This systematic review of the literature on AAC interventions that recorded incidence of spontaneous vocal speech reports the participant and intervention characteristics and the relative increase in vocal speech in participants. Future directions and limitations are discussed.




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