Design and Evaluation of Mobile Applications for Augmentative and Alternative Communication in Minimally-verbal Learners with Severe Autism
One of the most significant disabilities in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) includes a delay in, or total lack of, the development of spoken language. Approximately half of those on the autism spectrum are functionally non-verbal or minimally verbal and will not develop sufficient natural speech or writing to meet their daily communication needs.
A suite of evidence-based mobile applications, SPEAKall!® and SPEAKmore!®, was developed to help these individuals achieve critical speech and language milestones. SPEAKall! and SPEAKmore! enable early language learning, facilitate natural speech development, enhance generalization skills, and expand social circles as students learn. These solutions grow with the learner, enabling better participation in school and community, thus reducing the lifetime cost of care while enhancing chances for classroom success.
Evidence generation for the newly created applications involved: (a) Single-subject experimental designs to evaluate treatment efficacy through repeated measurement of behavior and replication across and within participants; (b) quantitative electroencephalograms to gain information about brain functioning.
The comprehensive approach to evidence-generation facilitated adoption of SPEAKall! and SPEAKmore! in clinical practice. It also allowed identifying critical app features that enhance skill acquisition and contribute to treatment effectiveness.
KeywordsAutism spectrum disorders Mobile technology Augmentative and alternative communication
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