Peer communication support for teen AAC users

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This article identified a method for increasing peer communication in middle-school AAC users. The treatment program consisted of three pre-intervention training meetings with the students' teams, followed by classroom-based peer intervention, supervised by paraprofessionals. Four middle-school students, all using iPads with Proloquo2Go, participated. The pre-intervention planning meetings  ranged from a half hour to a little over an hour:

  • Pre-intervention meeting #1make a plan with the student’s support team (e.g. SLP, classroom teacher, SPED teacher) to promote appropriate peer communication. The group identified appropriate classroom activities and vocabulary that would be required, along with strategies the peers could use successfully.
  • Pre-intervention meeting #2: train the paras assigned to the child. This meeting was between the coach (in the study, the researcher, but in practice likely the SLP) and paraprofessionals.
  • Pre-intervention meeting #3: the paras train the peers assigned to each AAC user, supervised by the coach (researcher/SLP). The peers were taught several strategies, including: provide communication opportunities, use expectant delay, provide appropriate prompts, respond.

During intervention, the peers provided the majority of the communication support, with the paras supervising. A clear "pro" of this is that it allowed paras to more easily move around the room, working with multiple children, instead of being the sole supporter of one student. 
Before the peer intervention program, most of the paras were providing exclusively academic communication support (not social) to their AAC users. After intervention, these students (who at baseline communicated minimally or not at all with peers) were communicating regularly with peers, for both social and academic functions, and at a higher rate compared to pre-intervention. One student also generalized peer communication to other classrooms.

Biggs, E.E., Carter, E.W., Gustafson, J. (2017). Efficacy of Peer Support Arrangements to Increase Peer Interaction and AAC Use. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 122 (1). 25–48.