Date of Award

5-2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Social Work

Major Professor

John G. Orme

Committee Members

Terri Combs-Orme, Matthew Theriot, David Cihak

Abstract

Autism is a bio-neurological developmental disorder presenting in early childhood that has a profound effect on an individual's ability to communicate. The iPad® with the Proloquo2GoTM app is a multilingual Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) solution designed to assist people who have difficulty speaking or cannot speak at all. This study examines the effectiveness of the Proloquo2GoTM app delivered via iPad® to enhance the tacting, manding, and verbal completion repertoires of children with autism. Participants included five children between the ages of three and four years old diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and with low to moderate receptive and expressive language skills. Prior to the study, participants were assessed using the Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program (VB-MAPP), the Communication and Symbolic Behavior Scales (CSBS) Joint Attention and Constructive Play subscales, and the Motor Imitation Scale (MIS). Three participants (Group 1) scored low (2, 7, and 8 on the MIS; 1 on the CSBS; and Level 1 on the VB-MAPP), and two participants (Group 2) scored mid-range (18 and 20 on the MIS; 3 on the CSBS; and Level 2 on the VB-MAPP) on assessments of joint attention, constructive play, and motor imitation. A multiple baseline across behaviors design was employed to assess the effectiveness of Proloquo2GoTM in enhancing tacting, manding, and verbal completion during Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapeutic sessions for both groups. The Proloquo2GoTM intervention was compared to American Sign Language (ASL) at baseline. Results of this study provide insight into the usefulness of Proloquo2GoTM in enhancing communication skills for children with ASD and complex communication needs during Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy. Specifically, this study provides evidence that using Proloquo2GoTM with some children with ASD and complex communication needs who are in early preverbal stages may be useful in enhancing tacting, manding, and verbal completion skills during ABA therapy, and using Proloquo2GoTM with children who are in later preverbal stages may be useful as a more accessible form of communication in addition to ASL.

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