Communication Intervention for Children with Autism

Project Leaders:

  • Dean Sutherland (NZILBB and Communication Disorders)
  • Jeff Sigafoos (Victoria University of Wellington)

Funding Agency: Royal Society of New Zealand - Marsden Fund

$885,000NZD June 2011 to January 2015 (extension)

Approximately 25% of children with autism and other developmental disabilities fail to develop sufficient speech to meet their communication needs. These children are candidates for the use of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). There are three major types of AAC systems that have been taught to children with autism and other developmental disabilities. These are: (1) Manual Signs; (2) Picture Exchange; and (3) Speech-Generating Devices such as iPads. The aim of this project is to compare these three systems to see which one is learnt the quickest and which one is most preferred by children. To achieve this aim, we will teach the participating children to use all three of these communication systems. As the child is learning each system, we will also set up assessments that will lelt us know which one of three systems the child prefers to use. The results of this project will lead to a greater understanding of the impact of children's preferred communication methods on communication development.