Techniques used in applied behavior analysis can complement as well as supplement the strategies that are effective in teaching communication to non-verbal children. Many of the techniques used during discrete trial instruction can also be used during “teachable moments” and incidental language learning opportunities.
Techniques used in applied behavior analysis can complement as well as supplement the strategies that are effective in teaching communication to non-verbal children. Many of the techniques used during discrete trial instruction can also be used during “teachable moments” and incidental language learning opportunities. Modeling, prompting, playing, and reinforcing are tools educators use consistently in both ABA and speech-language and communication therapy.
Somewhere between 12 and 15 months, the young child should begin to produce first word approximations. If a child does not begin to produce word approximations, it is critical that AAC be introduced before the child experiences failure. There are no documented reasons for Augmentative & Alternative Communication (AAC) systems to be withheld from children who are nonverbal. In fact, in a review of the research, Millar, Light, and Schlosser (2006) found that AAC interventions have a positive impact on speech production among all ages and across a variety of AAC intervention approaches. Of the participants in the review, 94% demonstrated an increase in speech production. Augmentative & Alternative Communication systems are used to provide a means of expressive communication while verbal language is developing. Common AAC systems used with children in ABA therapy to support communication development include the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), picture choice boards and dedicated voice activated devices that augment expressive communication.
Caferio (2011) describes the importance of balancing rigid ABA strategies with a more natural approach to language learning and provides ideas on creating communication opportunities. Her suggestions include: arranging the environment to create the need to communicate, integrating AAC into your verbal language when commenting and questioning, and providing models for language learning.
*Model & Expand
When the child requests “car”, expand the request to “blue car”.
When the child requests car, ask for clarification “blue or red (car)?”
*Create scenarios for asking questions Hide the car and encourage the child to ask, “Where’s car?”
Cafiero, J.M. (2011). AAC meets ABA: Natural aided language interventions for individuals with autism and complex communication needs. Retrieved from http://www.joannecafiero.com/AAC%20Meets%20ABA.pdf
Millar, D.C., Light, J.C., & Schlosser, R.W. (2006). The impact of augmentative and alternative communication intervention on the speech production of individuals with developmental disabilities: A research review. Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, 49, 248-264.