AAC and Autism: Compelling Issues, Promising Practices and Future Directions Current practices in ASD and AAC are a reflection of the scientific and educational advances in understanding how individuals with ASD process and learn language. Near “speed of light” advancement in communication technology and AAC has also profoundly shaped AAC practice. Nevertheless, there remains a significant knowledge gap regarding ... Article
Article  |   August 01, 2007
AAC and Autism: Compelling Issues, Promising Practices and Future Directions
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Joanne M. Cafiero
    Frederick County Public Schools Autism Cadre and Cafiero Communications Associates
  • Barbara Stern Delsack
    Montgomery County Maryland Public Schools
Article Information
Augmentative & Alternative Communication / Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Articles
Article   |   August 01, 2007
AAC and Autism: Compelling Issues, Promising Practices and Future Directions
SIG 12 Perspectives on Augmentative and Alternative Communication, August 2007, Vol. 16, 23-26. doi:10.1044/aac16.2.23
SIG 12 Perspectives on Augmentative and Alternative Communication, August 2007, Vol. 16, 23-26. doi:10.1044/aac16.2.23
Current practices in ASD and AAC are a reflection of the scientific and educational advances in understanding how individuals with ASD process and learn language. Near “speed of light” advancement in communication technology and AAC has also profoundly shaped AAC practice. Nevertheless, there remains a significant knowledge gap regarding the neurological and psychological elements that govern and regulate language for individuals with ASD. This knowledge gap often deeply affects the ability of the practitioner to provide the most appropriate AAC assessments and interventions for this challenging population.
First, and above all, is the need to place the dignity and uniqueness of each individual as the paramount consideration in selecting an AAC intervention. From that point on, evidence-based practice can be applied in a person-centered context. Evidence-based practice in AAC and autism is an evolving science as researchers and practitioners work to clarify “what truly is best practice?” Research-based practices in ASD can easily be applied to AAC interventions. Applied behavior analysis (ABA), incidental teaching (Hart & Risley, 1974), and pivotal response treatments (Koegel & Koegel, 2006) are empirically validated strategies that interface with good AAC practice. Specific AAC strategies are demonstrating an emerging research base; these include augmented input strategies such as the system for augmenting language (Romski & Sevcik, 1998), Aided Language Stimulation (Dexter, 1998) and natural aided language (Cafiero, 1995, 2001; Acheson, 2006). Functional communication training with AAC (Mirenda, 1997) and Picture Exchange Communication Systems (PECS; Bondy & Frost, 2001) techniques provide an empirical foundation for the practitioner.
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