Date Approved

6-13-2013

Date Posted

9-19-2013

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Special Education

Committee Member

Ana Claudia Harten, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Chair

Committee Member

Bill Cupples, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Committee Member

Janet Fisher, Ed.D.

Abstract

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices are invaluable tools for people who have difficulties communicating verbally. However, advancements in technology accentuate the need for training to utilize devices effectively. This qualitative research study examined the perceptions and experiences of parents and speech-language pathologists (SLPs) regarding the training in and maintenance of AAC devices. Previous literature reveals the commonality that parents encounter difficulties in learning AAC technologies, as well as updating their child’s devices. Interviews were conducted with parents of children with autism, as well as SLPs, to better understand their expectations concerning who is responsible for assuming specific roles in device training and programming. Results indicated that although parents and SLPs hold some similar perceptions of requirements, as well as opinions of ways to improve AAC services, deliberate role delegation does not occur early in the implementation process. This study identified gaps in perspectives and communication between parents and SLPs and discussed how these mismatches may lead to inappropriate assumptions by those involved in AAC intervention. Based on participants’ responses, conclusions were drawn that may facilitate better communication between families and clinicians and, ultimately, a better experience for all parties involved in the intervention process. Finally, the results of this study suggested directions for future research in the area of autism and AAC intervention.

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