Sarah Frampton, M.A., BCBA, Director of Skill Acquisition at May Institute, and Alice Shillingsburg, Ph.D., BCBA-D,Senior Vice President of Children’s Clinical Services and Training, are co-authors of an article published in Behavior Analysis in Practice, “Feasibility and Preliminary Efficacy of Direct Instruction for Individuals With Autism Utilizing Speech-Generating Devices.”
Behavior Analysis in Practice is a transnational journal that provides science-based, best-practice information relevant to service delivery in behavior analysis.
“Our study addresses two important concerns regarding children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their use of high-tech, speech-generating devices,” explained Dr. Shillingsburg. “First, we are concerned that the popularity of these devices is outpacing the research on the best methods for teaching children with ASD how to use them. Our second concern is that minimally verbal children may be at a disadvantage if they have more limited access to evidence-based educational curricula than their more verbal peers.”
Direct instruction (DI) is an evidence-based approach to education that has been shown to be effective across a wide variety of student populations. Growing evidence suggests that DI may be an efficacious strategy for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The current study aimed to evaluate the feasibility of using DI with students with ASD who utilize speech-generating devices (SGDs); 3 students with ASD whose primary mode of communication was an SGD were exposed to the Language for Learning Curriculum Lessons 1-10. Student performance on pre- and posttests was measured, as well as student performance on exercises within each lesson. The average time to complete an exercise, number of repetitions, number of terminated sessions, and student affect were also evaluated. Results indicated that all 3 students could participate and complete exercises with some modifications to support SGD use. The students demonstrated improved performance, positive affect, and overall timely completion of exercises. Taken together, these findings suggest that DI may be feasible for some students with ASD who utilize SGDs.