As 30% of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) demonstrate difficulties with vocal output, augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) intervention can provide a means for those persons to have the ability to communicate with others. To determine the most effective mode of AAC for individuals with ASD, practitioners must have access to current comparative research in order to make evidence-based decisions.
This systematic review searched ERIC, Google Scholar, PsycINFO, and Science Direct databases for studies that compared AAC modes, including mobile technology based speech-generating devices, in intervention with individuals with ASD. The search yielded nine (n = 9) alternating treatment design single case studies including a total of 36 participants with ASD with a mean age of seven (range: 3-13). The included studies were compared to evaluate operants, evidence-based best practices, preferences, and participant performance across AAC modes. Visual and statistical analyses indicated most participants not only preferred using the SGD but had performed better when using such devices compared to picture exchange and manual sign.
Findings suggest that practitioners should consider using mobile technology based SGDs to promote verbal behavior from children with a diagnosis of ASD. Additionally, research evaluating verbal operants beyond the initial mand (request) and incorporating participants who are adolescents or adults is needed.
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