Promoting Peer Interaction for Preschool Children With Complex Communication Needs and Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Michelle C. S. Therrien, Janice C. Light
  • American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, February 2018, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
  • DOI: 10.1044/2017_ajslp-17-0104

Supporting Peer Interaction for Children with ASD

What is it about?

This paper is about supporting children with ASD who aren't able to use natural speech for communication. Our goal was to help them build relationships with peers by teaching communicative interaction strategies to the dyad (take a turn, wait for your friend to take a turn). Even with these strategies, however, a child who can't use speech will not be able to communicate, so we also provided a means of communicating using an iPad with a communication app.

Why is it important?

1. It showed that children with ASD and their peers could be taught interaction strategies together (this eliminates a relationship imbalance that can be established when peers are taught to "help" children with disabilities). 2. It showed that the iPad with a communication app (in this case, acting as a speech-generating augmentative and alternative communication system - AAC) could be used as a universal communication support, where both children are using it to aid communication. In this way, it capitalizes on evidence-based communication partner strategies (such as modeling the use of AAC and increasing wait time). Again, this is done without training the peer to be a 'helper'.

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