The effect of a visual scene display intervention on the social interactions of a child with complex communication needs
MetadataShow full item record
Several forms of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices, ranging from unaided systems to high-tech systems, have been used in the treatment of children with complex communication needs. Computer-based systems seem to present a number of advantages over the other forms of AAC for this population, but they impose large learning demands that may be beyond the cognitive sophistication of these children. Use of visual scene displays has been proposed as a potential strategy for reducing these learning demands. A team of researchers at Pennsylvania State University has designed a treatment approach for beginning communicators. This approach includes use of visual scene displays as one of its features. This team has reported encouraging outcomes. In this study, a component of the program used by the Pennsylvania State University Team was replicated. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of a computer-based augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device with a visual scene display layout on the turn-taking behavior of a child with multiple disabilities. Two speech-language pathology graduate students were taught to use a constant time-delay procedure during a singing activity to train the participant in the use of the system. The participant's performance in the presence of this system was compared with her performance in two baseline conditions, one in which no AAC system was available and one in which a low-tech AAC system was used. Videotapes of each session were coded, and the rates of the client turn types (e.g., selections made independently using the AAC devices, physically prompted selections, and vocalizations) were calculated. Results indicated that the rates of all forms of client turns were higher in both the low-tech condition and the visual scene display condition compared with the no-AAC condition. The visual scene display system did not appear to have any advantages over the low-tech system. These results suggest that the client was more likely to take turns in the interaction when an AAC system was available than in the absence of an AAC system, regardless of whether the system was a computer-based system or a low-tech system. Client characteristics that may have affected the results are discussed and differences between the intervention program used in this study and that utilized by the Pennsylvania State University Team are outlined. Suggestions for future research are provided.