How Teaching Aac Early on Impact on Developing Verbal Communication Skills for Children With Autism Term Paper

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teaching AAC early on impacts developing verbal communication skills in children with autism



The basic problem dealt with in this study is the fact that children that have autism often do not communicate well with others. Because of this they may have problems in school communicating with other students and they may also have difficulties in making any kind of close attachments with others. While many autistic children never form close physical attachments with other individuals, they can learn the important verbal communication skills that they need to survive in school and function on a level that is acceptable to everyone involved in their care.

In order to do this, however, they must learn different ways of communicating from a very early age. This is where AAC comes into play. For children with autism, learning speech and other forms of communication and is often quite problematic and AAC is one of the ways that they can allegedly be helped in this process. However, there are many who feel that AAC actually hinders some the progress that autistic children must go through an to arrive at the ability to communicate verbally on a level that is understood by those that the child wishes to communicate with.

Since there has not been a great deal of study into this on a level that this study is concerned with it sometimes is difficult to determine whether AAC is actually more beneficial to a child than simply working with them in the normal way, which is to teach them speech and language. The intent of this study is to show that there is a real need for children with autism to learn AAC at a very young age and by doing so they will be able to communicate more easily and will develop verbal communication skills at a higher rate than those children that are taught only normal speech.

As a result of this their interactions with others will be less problematic and as they see that they are able to use other ways of communicating and others will understand them they will become more comfortable communicating with other individuals. This will in turn lead them to verbal communication skills and the use of language that they might have not previously been able to enjoy based on their disability. The problem with this is that there is still much debate about how best to teach an autistic child. There are some that believe autistic children cannot be taught verbal communication skills that will allow them to function in any type of normal method, but many others believe that AAC is the key to teaching these children how to communicate.

Definition of Terms

There are several terms used throughout the rest of this document that need to be defined here in order for a complete understanding of the information and discussion contained in the following pages. These definitions are presented here so that there will not be cause for confusion in the rest of the information.

Autism - this is defined as a psychiatric disorder of childhood. It is marked by withdrawal, preoccupation with fantasy worlds, and more significantly, language impairments.

Verbal communication skills - these are the skills necessary for language and communication on an expected level for the age and developmental abilities of the person in question.

AAC - Augmentative and Alternative Communication. This is often used to as a precursor to verbal communication and language skills. It can be used for children with autism and children that have other cognitive disabilities and impairments that make their learning of normal language at an early age very difficult.

Research Questions and Hypothesis

In a study such as this, it becomes necessary to examine the actual questions that one is trying to answer and the ideas that are being presented for consideration. Without making clear at the beginning the desire to answer specific questions and validate or invalidate specific hypotheses there is no logical way to determine whether the study in question has been successful in determining answers to any specific issues that it set out to undertake. It is for this reason that this section will briefly state the research questions and hypothesis that will be used throughout the rest of the study to make a determination as to whether the literature review and methodology have given sufficient information towards a study that will find answers to the questions and work with the hypothesis in such a way as to validate or invalidate it. The two specific research questions to be answered in the study are as follows:

Does the age at which AAC is first taught affect the verbal communication skills of children with autism?

Does the fact of AAC being taught at all affect the verbal communication skills of children with autism?

It is the goal of this study to answer these specific questions as well as make a determination as to whether or not the following hypothesis should be deemed valid or invalid:

Children with autism who are taught AAC early on develop more verbal communication skills than those who are only taught speech.

Whether this is accurate remains to be seen and will be the focus of discussion during the literature review and other chapters of this document. The desire is to answer both research questions and validate or invalidate the hypothesis based on the information gleaned from other studies and writings about this subject. The literature review chapter will provide much insight into what others believe is correct about the above hypothesis and the research questions that are being addressed here.

Rationale of the Study

Autism is a disorder that is marked chiefly by a very important difficulty in the development of speech and social functioning. It influences three important areas of development. These three areas are verbal and nonverbal interaction, social association, and recreational play (Dawson & Osterling, 1997). Although many students with autism have an idea about communication, as do students without disabilities, autistic students consistently are not able to discover relevant means that they can use to communicate. Frequently, the ideas of communication give rise to behavioral problems such as oppressiveness, self-destruction, and frequent fighting.

For this particular reason learning communication assets is the most significant issue for students who have autism. This will work to boost their social cooperation skills and also to reduce the difficulties that many of them have with problematic behaviors. Without having a concise communication system, opportunities for helping these autistic children are greatly reduced. Preference-creating opportunities are important to these children and if these opportunities are constrained there is a higher likelihood of difficult behaviors (Kern et al., 1998).

For this particular reason, a basic aim for these autistic children is to find a way for them to have an enhanced communication system. The most convenient and socially open communication system of course turns out to be speech (Bondy & Frost, 1994). However, when children with autism are taught communication skills directly their proportion of speech attainment is generally retarded. Even when the attempt does not reap any result, a vast chunk of deliberation is needed from both children and staff (Carr, 1982). It becomes very difficult for teachers to make much progress at all when teaching speech to an autistic child and most autistic children become frustrated and angry when they are pushed too much by an adult who is trying to force them to learn.

Apart from speech, there is another section of learning Augmented and Alternative Communication skills as a functional communication skill. This has been seen as comprehensive and viable in gaining communication. However, most parents believe that teaching this type of functional communication skill may actually hinder the development of verbal communication in autistic children. That is why this study is being conducted. There is a desire to investigate this topic and to show that teaching AAC actually has a good impact on developing verbal communication skills in children that have autism.

Significance of the Proposed Study

The study is significant in that it will look at the ways that AAC can help children with autism and will examine whether children who have autism and are taught AAC at a young age develop better verbal communication skills and learn language easier than children that have not received any type of training other than in speech and language. The implications from a study like this could be wide-ranging as there are many children with autism and other cognitive learning disabilities that might also benefit from the information gleaned from this study and others like it.

Autism is not the only type of disability that causes a delay in speech and that might be helped by other ways to teach children about language and how to express themselves. However, autism to be the only form of these problems discussed during this particular study, as the focus of it is narrow.…

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