Tiffany Chavers-Edgar, Ph.D.
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Research in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Laboratory (RIDDL)
The Effectiveness AAC interventions Targeting Social Communication: Findings and Future Directions
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that involves persistent deficits in communication and social interaction skills as well as the occurrence of restricted interests and repetitive and stereotyped behaviors. Approximately 30-40% of individuals diagnosed with ASD fail to develop functional speech and remain non-verbal or minimally verbal (MV) throughout their lifespan. To facilitate communication, these individuals may receive instruction in the use of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) strategies, aids, and techniques. Despite social communication being a salient deficit in individuals with ASD, to date, few AAC intervention studies have focused on teaching socio-communicative behaviors beyond requesting. Thus, the purpose of presentation is to 1) examine the results of an AAC intervention package on social communication skills between MV autistic children and their typically developing peers, and 2) explore methods to promote inclusion and friendship in MV autistic individuals. Outcomes from these studies suggest that aided modeling, systematic instruction, and peer-mediated intervention using an SGD may lead to gains in socio-communicative behaviors in MV autistic children. Future directions and clinical implications will be discussed.
Tiffany Chavers-Edgar is a postdoctoral fellow with a PhD in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences from the University of Texas at Austin. Her work focuses on the efficacy of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) interventions that target social communication for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities. She is also interested in studying AAC methods for promoting language and cognition for individuals with autism spectrum disorder and fragile X syndrome.