Developmental and Augmented Intervention for Facilitating Expressive Language
University of California, Los Angeles
High Risk High Impact
Nearly half of all children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are still nonverbal by 9-10 years of age despite access to current community interventions. Current treatment strategies are not sufficiently effective. The proposed study utilizes novel intervention methods to provide skills to help nonverbal children with ASD become more effective communicators. Two approaches will be pursued. The first intervention addresses core deficits of joint attention and joint engagement in facilitating communication and language development in children with autism. The second intervention focuses on joint engagement and the use of an augmentative and alternative communication device. These two approaches are combined with a highly novel study design that compares the sequence of the two interventions on children's progress in communication and language. Moreover, the research design will allow the investigators to define key factors associated with intervention success, such as the child exhibiting an initial understanding of language and oral-motor abilities. What this means for people with autism: The lack of expressive language skills is a heavy burden on the child and his or her family. The number of older children who do not develop this capacity, despite attempts at multiple interventions, is staggering. There is thus a critical need to test the effectiveness of novel interventions for children with ASD who have not shown gains in expressive language through traditional interventions.