Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


32nd Annual Convention; Atlanta, GA; 2006

Event Details

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Symposium #324
CE Offered: BACB
Using Voice Output Communication Aids with Children with Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities
Monday, May 29, 2006
10:30 AM–11:50 AM
Regency VI
Area: DDA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Melissa L. Olive (University of Texas, Austin)
CE Instructor: Melissa L. Olive, Ph.D.

Children with autism and other developmental disabilities often fail to develop spoken language. Consequently, augmentative or alternative communication (AAC) strategies must be made available to ensure the development of expressive communication skills. One type of AAC is the use of a voice output communication aid (VOCA). This session will focus on the use of VOCAs to teach a variety of communication skills. The first paper will briefly overview the types of AAC products available to consumers. Strengths and weaknesses of each will be highlighted. The second paper will review the literature on the combined use of FCT and VOCA for young children. Areas for application and future research will be discussed. The third paper will present the results of a study where a 4-button VOCA was used to teach greeting skills to children with autism. The fourth paper will present the results of teaching a child to request attention using a VOCA during play activities.

Overview of Voice Output Communication Aids.
BERENICE DE LA CRUZ (University of Texas, Austin), Melissa L. Olive (University of Texas, Austin), Tonya Nichole Davis (University of Texas, Austin), Russell Lang (Lake Travis Independent School District), Hyung-Mee Kim (University of Texas, Austin)
Abstract: This paper will provide an overview of the types of VOCA available to consumers. Relevant literature will be presented to support the use of such devices. Finally, literature will be used to describe the strengths and weaknesses of each device.
A Literature Review of the Combined use of FCT and VOCA with Young Children.
HYUNG-MEE KIM (University of Texas, Austin), Melissa L. Olive (University of Texas, Austin)
Abstract: Studies have demonstrated that AAC is a beneficial intervention for children with severe communication delays. Unfortunately, AAC is not widely accepted and used with young children. One could assume then, that children with severe communication delays and challenging behavior will likely need an intervention package consisting of FCT and AAC. However, if AAC strategies are underutilized with young children; it is likely that the combined use of FCT and AAC is also underutilized. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to complete a literature review of studies where AAC strategies were combined with FCT for young children. 17 articles were reviewed. A total of 28 children participated in the 17 studies across settings such as clinical, home, and educational settings. Most participants were male, nonverbal, diagnosed with mental retardation, and engaged in self-injury or aggressive behavior. The combination of FCT and AAC has been effective in increasing new communication responses while concomitantly reducing challenging behaviors. The most commonly used AAC strategy consisted of symbols and voice output communication aids (VOCAs).
The Effects of Using a VOCA to Teach Greetings to Young Children with Autism.
RUSSELL LANG (Lake Travis Independent School District), Melissa L. Olive (University of Texas, Austin), Jennifer K. Burns (University of Texas, RISE School), Laura Brown (The Westview School), Amy Narbut (Infant Parent), Jessica Kerfoot (Moore-Weis School for Children), Hsiaoying Chen (University of Texas, Austin)
Abstract: Children with autism and other developmental disabilities often have delays in communication and social interaction. VOCAs have been used successfully to teach a variety of communication skills. While greeting skills have been taught to children with disabilities (e.g., Barry et al., 2003; Simpson, Langone, & Ayers, 2004), VOCAs have not been used to teach this skill. Therefore, this study sought to teach a social greeting to children with autism and developmental disabilities using a VOCA. A second purpose was to assess for generalization of the greeting skill across behavior therapists. If generalization did not occur spontaneously, systematic training across therapists was used using the method, “train sufficient exemplars”. The results showed rapid skill acquisition for one children using naturalistic intervention. However 1 child needed training using a discrete trial format. Once the greeting skill was acquired, generalization was observed to other therapists. Two children began vocalizing the greeting.
The Effects of Using a VOCA to Teach Attention Requesting to a Young Child with Autism.
TONYA NICHOLE DAVIS (University of Texas, Austin), Melissa L. Olive (University of Texas, Austin), Russell Lang (Lake Travis Independent School District), Berenice de la Cruz (University of Texas, Austin), Chia-Hui Ma (University of Texas, Austin)
Abstract: Functional Communication Training is one intervention that may be used to address challenging behavior. However, when the new topography of the behavior requires more response effort than the existing topography (i.e., challenging behavior), skill acquisition may be slow. One way of lessening the response effort of the new communicative skill is to use a Voice Output Communication Aid (VOCA) where only a button pressing response is needed. This study examined the use of a 4-button VOCA to teach attention requesting to a 4-year-old with autism. The child learned to use the VOCA and she began verbalizing the request. Additionally, following intervention she used fewer pronoun reversals than in baseline.



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