Behavioral Intervention Promotes Successful Use of an iPod-Based Communication Device by an Adolescent With Autism


Individuals with autism and limited speech are candidates for speech-generating devices (SGDs), but some of these individuals might experience difficulty in operating these devices. This article describes the case of Steven, a 17-year-old adolescent with autism who used an iPod-based SGD but had difficulty activating its speech output feature. Researchers initially interpreted Steven’s difficulties as motor control problems, suggesting the need to abandon the technology, prescribe a different SGD, or adapt the existing device. An alternative conceptualization posited that the existing intervention procedures had failed to shape more effective response topographies. Along these lines, a behavioral intervention involving differential reinforcement and delayed prompting proved effective in shaping response topographies that enabled Steven to be more successful in activating the speech output function of his iPod-based SGD. The results suggest that behavioral intervention may provide an alternative to the more costly and involved process of replacing or modifying one’s SGD.


Kagohara, D. M., van der Meer, L., Achmadi, D., Green, V. A., O’Reilly, M. F., Mulloy, A., . . . Sigafoos, J. (2010). Behavioral intervention promotes successful use of an iPod-based communication device by an adolescent with autism. Clinical Case Studies, 9, 328–338.