It's good to talk: developing the communication skills of an adult with an intellectual disability through augmentative and alternative communication

Authors


Abstract

Accessible summary

  • People with intellectual disabilities often have difficulty communicating with others.
  • Supporting people to get their message across can include using pictures, objects or electronic devices.
  • This case study describes a lady who uses an electronic device to help her talk. When she presses icons on the device, a computerised voice speaks her message.
  • Devices like this could be considered for other people with similar difficulties.

Summary

Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems have been repeatedly identified as a means of improving an individual's communication abilities and their ability to participate in interactions. However, existing literature indicates that dynamic display speech generating devices (SGDs) are not commonly introduced for adults with moderate intellectual disabilities (ID). This case study reports the impact of using an SGD on the communication abilities of a nonverbal individual with a moderate ID. Clinical assessment and therapy outcome measures include semi-structured interviews with staff and communication dyad analyses. These measures were conducted before and after collaborative intervention from speech and language therapy and behaviour support. Findings from the study reveal that when using an SGD the individual experienced improvements in expressive communication abilities and pragmatic skills including topic maintenance, taking conversational turns and reduced communication breakdown. The clinical implications of this intervention are discussed.

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