Speech Associated with the Use of Speech Generating Devices with Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Comparison of Two Treatment Conditions
Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems are commonly used by children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and communication impairments. Some AAC systems, such as the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS; Bondy & Frost, 1994), have been associated with increased speech. Although the exact mechanism of change is unknown, the creators of PECS (Bondy & Frost, 2004) suggest the use of a time delay when “reading” the sentence strip may be associated with increases in speech. The current study evaluated the effects on speech of two approaches to communication training using the PECS IV+® App as a speech generating device (SGD): (a) SGD speech output without a time delay, and (b) SGD speech output with a 3-second time delay. An adapted alternating treatment design (AATD) across three participants with ASD was used. Results suggest that the influence of the two teaching strategies on speech was different for each participant. For one participant, time delay prompting may have been beneficial in increasing the complexity or length of utterance of her speech. For a second participant, time delay prompting may have been beneficial in increasing vocal speech in the form of word approximations. For the remaining participant, there appeared to be no visible benefit for speech for either teaching strategy (with or without time delay prompting). Implications for selecting and training SGDs are discussed.