The Assessment and Intervention of Communication Repair Strategies in Primary School Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Who Are Minimally Verbal
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is characterized by marked deficits in communication and social skills in addition to restricted interests and repetitive behaviour. Children with ASD have also been reported to have significant deficits with respect to their ability to repair communication breakdowns. To date, assessments targeting communication repair strategies in children with ASD have been limited in number and lack consistency of implementation. For the current research, both an indirect and direct assessment have been developed to investigate the repair repertoires of primary school-aged children who were minimally verbal. Indirect assessments were conducted with each of the participant’s teachers, and the direct assessments were conducted by creating breakdown scenarios during a requesting routine and recording if and how the children attempted to repair the communication breakdown. Results show that children tended to rely on a singular repair strategy involving the repetition of their initial request. An intervention program was then developed and evaluated with two of the children. These children were taught to use an iPad®-based speech generating device to repair communication breakdowns that occurred when the children’s initial request was followed by receipt of the wrong item. The intervention was evaluated using a nonconcurrent multiple baseline experimental design. Each of the participants showed an increase in responding under specific communication breakdown conditions. While this research is quite preliminary, the data suggests that repair repertoires of children with ASD can be assessed via a structured, direct asses and improved with interventions based on the assessment results.