Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis InternationalĀ® (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.

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40th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2014

Workshop Details


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Workshop #W8
CE Offered: PSY/BACB
Augmentative and Alternative Communication in Autism: Evidence-based Strategies to Enhance Communication and Remediate Challenging Behavior
Friday, May 23, 2014
8:00 AM–3:00 PM
W183b (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Service Delivery
CE Instructor: William Tim Courtney, M.S.
OLIVER WENDT (Purdue University), MIRIAM C. BOESCH (University of North Texas), WILLIAM TIM COURTNEY (Little Star Center), RAVI NIGAM (Governors State University), KASEY PHILPOTT (Little Star Center)
Description: This workshop will provide an introduction to interventions in augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) for autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). One of the core ASD symptoms includes a delay in, or total lack of, the development of spoken language. Approximately 25–50% of children with ASD are functionally non-verbal and will not develop sufficient natural speech or writing without ongoing and systematic AAC intervention. AAC augments or replaces spoken language through alternative means of communication. The first part of this workshop will review evidence-based AAC strategies to facilitate functional communication skills, enhance natural speech production, and increase social-communicative behaviors. Strategies include unaided approaches such as manual signs and gestures, and aided approaches such as graphic symbols, exchanged-based communication, electronic communication aides, and tablet devices. The second part will focus on how to use AAC for remediating challenging behaviors such as aggression or self-injury. Particular emphasis will be on the application of iPads and AAC apps. The workshop will identify features of evidence-based apps that are most suitable for autism intervention and showcase how to infuse these into behavioral instruction. Data and video cases from recent single-subject experiments will illustrate successful AAC interventions and their implementation into daily activities in an autism center.
Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of this workshop, the participant will be able to (1) summarize and critically appraise research related to ASD and AAC approaches such as manual signs and gestures, communication boards with graphic symbols, tangible symbols, Picture Exchange Communication System, speech-generating devices (SGDs), tablets and AAC apps, and functional communication training; (2) outline the pros and cons of using tablet devices for AAC intervention, distinguish well-designed from poorly designed AAC apps, and identify app features that are important to facilitate sensory processing and prevent cognitive overload; (3) define the potential benefits of AAC intervention on development of natural speech in children with ASD, as well as the roles of behavioral versus naturalistic AAC intervention approaches; and (4) explain how single-subject research is used to evaluate the effectiveness of AAC interventions, how practitioners can easily estimate the amount of treatment effectiveness, and how to identify quality criteria for sound treatment research in AAC.
Activities: Lecturing will provide an initial overview on the various AAC interventions and their effectiveness for individuals with ASD. Participants will learn the role of single-subject experimental designs for evaluating AAC efficacy and how to apply quality indicators to determine if standards for high quality research and evidence-based practice are met. Videotaped case studies will illustrate differences between AAC approaches and provide a better understanding of different intervention components. Video cases will also demonstrate how to use AAC for facilitating natural speech development, and how to implement AAC intervention into programming in an applied behavior analysis (ABA) setting. Group discussion will revolve around the presentation of different types of AAC apps and evaluation of app features; these will be examined in terms of sensory friendliness, ability to reduce cognitive load, ease of access and programming, suitability for ABA instruction, symbol iconicity, cost-efficiency, and ability to track progress. Finally, resources will be discussed that are available to practitioners seeking best available AAC treatment evidence. Attendees will be provided with digital handouts of all the information covered in the workshop.
Audience: This workshop is intended for professionals working in the autism field who have an interest in AAC interventions for individuals presenting with little or no functional speech. Specifically, practitioners with motivation to implement evidence-based practices in AAC and particular interest in learning about iDevices and tablets for autism intervention will find this workshop very suitable for their needs. These can include BACB certificants and licensed psychologists, applied researchers, behavior analysts, special education teachers, speech-language pathologists, graduate students in any of these disciplines, and other practitioners serving individuals with autism. A basic understanding of single-subject research methodology is advantageous to fully benefit from this workshop, but not strictly necessary.
Content Area: Practice
Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): assistive technology, autism, communication intervention, tablet devices

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