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A Systematic Review of Research Comparing Mobile Technology Speech-Generating Devices to Other AAC Modes with Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Abstract

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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Correspondence to Elizabeth R. Lorah.

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Appendices

Appendix

Visual Analysis Worksheet

Researcher initials:

IOA:

Reference:

Participant:

Device:

Characteristic Questions + N/A
Level Is a consistent level established in each condition prior to condition change? Yes No  
Is there a consistent level change between conditions, in the expected direction? Yes No  
Trend Are unexpected trends present that make determination of behavior change difficult? No Yes  
Is there a consistent change in trend across conditions, in the expected direction? Yes No  
Variability Does unexpected variability exist in one or more conditions? No Yes  
Consistency Are data within conditions and changes between conditions consistent? Yes No  
If changes are inconsistent with regard to level, trend, or variability, was it expected? Yes No  
Overlap Are data overlapping between conditions? No Yes  
If overlapping, does the degree of overlap improve overtime? Yes No  
Is overlap consistent across comparisons? Yes No  
Was overlap expected a priori? Yes No  
Immediacy Are changes between tiers immediate, in the intended direction? Yes No  
If no, are delays in changes consistent across tiers? Yes No  
Total:     
What is your determination regarding the presence of a functional relation? Present Not Present
  1. Taken from Ledford and Gast (2018)

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Lorah, E.R., Holyfield, C., Miller, J. et al. A Systematic Review of Research Comparing Mobile Technology Speech-Generating Devices to Other AAC Modes with Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. J Dev Phys Disabil (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10882-021-09803-y

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Keywords

  • Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC)
  • Speech generating device (SGD)
  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
  • Picture exchange (PE)
  • Manual sign (MS)