A COMPARISON OF THE EFFECTS OF SPEECH TRAINING, MODELED SIGN LANGUAGE TRAINING AND PROMPTED SIGN LANGUAGE TRAINING ON THE LANGUAGE BEHAVIOR OF AUTISTIC PRESCHOOL CHILDREN.
AuthorKREIMEYER, KATHRYN HAZEL.
Committee ChairCarroll, Wayne
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractOne of the most debilitating impairments of autistic and other behaviorally disordered children is an inability to communicate. Increasing documentation of the successful acquisition of sign language by these children has intensified the need for experimental analyses of teaching procedures and their effects on behavior. This study investigated the relationship between sign language acquisition and speech acquisition as well as the role of language acquisition in reducing the stereotypic and inappropriate behaviors common to this population. Speech training was compared with two sign language training procedures in an alternating treatments time series design. A modeled sign treatment based on visual imitation was compared with a prompted sign treatment based on physical manipulation of children's hands to determine which of the two stimuli, the visual model or the physical manipulation, promoted most rapid sign acquisition. Four preschool autistic children with minimal linguistic skills were the subjects of this study. Data on speech and sign acquisition as well as the occurrence of interfering behavior under all treatment conditions were recorded and visually analyzed. Minimal changes in speech and sign behavior occurred under the speech and modeled sign treatments. The prompted sign treatment resulted in the most rapid sign acquisition. The procedures of the prompted sign treatment allowed the teacher to physically prompt sign responses and to follow these responses with reinforcement. The effectiveness of the prompted sign procedure was attributed to the frequent reinforcement schedule of this treatment. The lowest levels of interfering behavior were also recorded under the prompted sign treatment. It was hypothesized that differential reinforcement of an alternative behavior, signing, accounted for this observation. The impact of language competency on the rate of interfering behavior is also discussed. One child began to speak when a repetitive speech model was introduced after sign acquisition. Words that had been previously signed were uttered first and most intelligibly. The acquisition of imitative sign skills and subsequent environmental control through language are explored as factors which facilitate speech development.