What is it about?

This is a secondary analysis of how communicative functions and modalities changed for n=6 children who participated in a group design study (N=45) previously conducted by the first author (Thiemann-Bourque et al., 2018). Following SGD + modified Stay-Play-Talk training implemented by preschool staff (range of 13-18 weeks), all children showed more balanced reciprocity with peers and individual differences in how and why they communicated during exchanges. That is, SGD use was the primary communication mode; 3 children used different modalities including more speech and 3 children used primarily gestures and SGD.

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Why is it important?

This study demonstrates the promise of a peer partner SGD intervention on expanding the social communicative functions and reciprocal exchanges for preschool children with ASD and limited to no spoken communication. Both the amount and quality of interactions were improved, and confirmed by social validity reports from naïve judges. Higher levels of engagement with peers provides opportunities for young children with ASD to communicate about shared interests, follow a partner's reference, and attend to peer language models - all important to impact further gains social and language skills.


It was beneficial to delve deeper into our data on individual child gains in specific communication functions and modalities following the modified Stay-Play-Talk + SGD intervention. More studies are needed to determine how to best help young children with ASD gain a wider repertoire of communication skills to participate in reciprocal, sustained interactions. It was a pleasure to once again collaborate with Dr. Howard Goldstein in our efforts to extend the field of early social communication intervention research.

Dr Kathy Bourque
University of Kansas

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Expanding Communication Modalities and Functions for Preschoolers With Autism Spectrum Disorder: Secondary Analysis of a Peer Partner Speech-Generating Device Intervention, Journal of Speech Language and Hearing Research, January 2020, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), DOI: 10.1044/2019_jslhr-19-00202.
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