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A Series of Experimental Investigations on iPad-based AAC Interventions for Individuals with Severe Autism

Research Stream
  • Oliver Wendt (Purdue University - USA)
  • Ning Hsu (Purdue University - USA)
  • Lauren Cain (Purdue University - USA)
  • Rachel Casey (Purdue University - USA)
  • Alyssa Dienhart (Purdue University - USA)
  • Evan Mattice (Purdue University - USA)
  • Kara Simon (Purdue University - USA)
Funding / Sponsorship: 
Project funded by Indiana Clinical & Translational Sciences Institute and Purdue Center for Families: both not-for-profit.

This session aims to report empirical data on iPad-based AAC interventions for individuals with severe autism and little to no functional speech. Experiment 1 sought to investigate generalization-across-setting effects when iPads were used within the instructional framework of the Picture Exchange Communication System; intervention was implemented across clinic, home, and school environments. Experiment 2 explored response generalization to untrained stimuli. Experiment 3 evaluated the effects of a parent-training protocol.


Treatment effects were evaluated through rigorous single-subject experimental designs. Instructional protocols followed the phases of the PECS approach. Dependent measures were: (a) The number of correct requests during a 20-trials session; and (b) the number of vocalizations or word approximations. Intervention phases targeted requesting for food items; generalization probes were taken for requesting different toys.


Overly positive results were obtained for teaching requesting skills, and the generalization thereof. Mixed results occurred for enhancing speech skills. Findings provide evidence that parents can carry out basic AAC intervention with sufficient fidelity.


An impact on natural speech development cannot necessarily be expected. Parent-training results underscore the necessity and feasibility of parent-implemented AAC intervention in autism.